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Full text of "The British school of sculpture, illustrated by twenty engravings from the finest works of deceased masters of the art, and fifty woodcuts. With a preliminary essay and notices of the artists"

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The original of this book is in 
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Cornell University Library 

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The British school of sculpture, 



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THE 



BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE 



Illustratcli bij 

TWENTY ENGRAVINGS 

FRO:]I THE FIXE ST WORKS OF DECEASED MASTERS OF THE ART, 

AND FIFTY WOODCUTS. 




With a Preliminary Essay and Notices of the Artists, 

By WILLIAM B:' SCOTT, 



AUTHOR OF THE "LIFE AND WORKS (IF ALEFRT DURER," ETC. 



• A Faithful evidence of mj' vocation, 
BEAUTY, was given me at my birth." 

Michelangelo, Mad, vii. 



LONDON AND NEW YORK: 

GEORGE R O U T L E D G E AND SONS. 

1872. 
Y 



©fie JllmorB 

OF 

JOHN FLAXA-IAN, 

THE AUTHOR OF MANY PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL 

ILLUSTRATIVE WORKS OF EUROPEAN CELEBRITY, 
THIS BOOK, 

RHLATING TO IHE 

DECEASED SCULPTORS OF THE BRITISH SCHOOL, 

IS 
BY 

THE PUBLISHERS. 



Funereal Angels {Flax?nan). 



PREFACE. 




.LTHOUGH late in entering the field, our School of Sculpture has already 

overtaken the other European competitors in the race, and has to some 

extent acquired a reputation of its own ; so that the Publishers may be 

justified in thinking the time come when a book of this kind — a book of illustrations 

that have ah-eady received the approbation of some portion of the public interested 

in the Arts — may meet with popular approbation. 

Our volume is limited to the past ; it deals with British Sculpture of the earlier 
time to some extent in the literary portion, and the Engi^avings represent the works 
of our deceased Artists, those deceased within the present centmy. These compre- 
hend twenty elaborate Steel Engraviugs, done in the manner called chalk engraving, 
except two, which are done from relievo by the process originally called CoUas' 
process, exceedingly well adapted for exj)ressing cameo surfaces. These are sup- 
plemented by numerous Woodcuts, principally of the works of Elaxman. 

As to the literary portion of the book, a learned treatise is not wanted in a 
table-book on our own school ; but the misty fine- writing which the subject of 
Sculpture seems fated to evoke— a kind of writing, like sitting on a badly-inflated 
air-cushion or water-bed, thi-owing the patient into an uneasy and impatient 
drowsiness as long as the ai:»plication is continued — the Author hopes is not to be 

b 



VI 



PREFACE. 



found in it. The reason for tliis vagueness may bo found in the difficulty of 
stopping as occasion requires into a new and somewhat abstracted mental field; 
and to the busy critic whose interests and whose labours mainly lie in things 
characteristic of the present day, the subject of Sculpture is 

"Pinnacled dim in tlic intense inane." 

In the following notices of our Sculptors lately deceased, some names are 
necessarily omitted. Memorials of one in particular, very well known to the 
writer in former times, he tried in vain to find, although so lately doad, and so 
much seen in Loudon artistic society twenty-five years ago — a man of most 
interesting personality, with the figure of a young athlete. Ills name, at least — 
the name of Patric Pakk — we may here record. Success in all intellectual matters 
has an element of mystery in it, but especially so in Sculptiu'e. 



Bellevue House, Chelsea, 
November, 1871. 




K > 



Jill- GinK-Jinn Jiiiivi {F/axman}. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 



INTRODUCTOEY ESSAY .........■■•• 1 

C. G. GIBBER TO JOHN BACON ........... 28 

JOHN FLAXMAN, including NOLLEKENS and Othees ....... 33 

SIR FRANCIS CHANTREY, R.A. 61 

E. J. WYATT 67 

WILLIAM WYON, R.A. ............. 78 

JOHN THOMAS 77 

SAMUEL JOSEPH ..,....•....•• 77 

SIR RICHARD WESTMACOTT, R.A. . 88 

M. L. WATSON ,..,......-.••• 89 

WILLIAM BEHNES , 99 

PATRICK MACDOWELL, R.A. 103 

.JOHN GIBSON, R.A. . 109 

E. H. BAILY, R.A. .............. 123 

B. E. SPENCE 129 

ALEXANDER MUNRO 13S 



ENGRAVINGS ON STEEL. 



THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE 

NAECISSITS 

MIOILIEL AKD SATAN 

THE TWO CHILDEEN 

PENELOPE 

SCIENCE TRIMS TLIE LAMP OF LIFE 

BOADICEA 

MONUMENT TO WILCERFORCE 

EUPHROSYNE 

SAEPEDON CARRIED BY SLEEP AND DEATH 

THE FRIENDS 

GIRL READING 

VENUS 

HYLAS 

CUPID AND PSYCHE 

THE GRACES 

MATERNAL AFFECTION 

THE ANGEL'S WHISPER 

INFANT MOSES AND PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER 
SISTER AND BROTHER 



Kj\me of artist. 

Patrick Macdowell 

John Bac(in 

JoHX Flaxman 

Sii; Francis Chantrey 

R. J. Wyatt 

William Wyon 

John Thomas 

Samuel Joseth 

R Richard Westmaoott 

M. L. Watson 

. William Behnes 

Patrick Macdowell 

John Gibson 



E. H. Baily 

B. E. Spence 

Alexander Munro 



ENGRAVINGS ON WOOD. 



Phaeton DBrfiNQ the Chariot of the Sun 

Funereal Angels 

The Guardian Angel . 

The Good Samaritan . 

Monument to Mrs. Jane Smith 

Monument to Willlvm Collins 

" Ik.struct the ignorant" . 

Monument to the Rev. T. Ball 

Cupid and Psyche (Flaxman) 

Cupid and Psyche (Gibson) 

f iupiD mounted on a Panther 

Cupid and Psyche 

Medallion Portrait op Flaxman 

Medallions of Mr. IIeeschel and Dr. Buchan 

Medallion Portiiait of JIrs. Flaxman 

Flaxman's Tomr . 

bionument to miss lnsiiinoton 

Portrait of Chantrey 

Love pursuing the Soul 

The English Cemetery, Rome 

Portrait of E. J. Wyatt . 

Adoration of the Magi 

Monument to Mr. tiuAXToCK 

" Deliyeii us PROM evil " 

Portrait of John Thomas . 



page 
Vignette 



Tl 
1 

5 
12 
17 



2i5 
32 
33 
3.5 
47 
48 
60 
01 
63 
CG 
C7 
CO 
73 
75 
77 
79 



Ariel directing the Storm 
Charity .... 
The Angel appearing to Peteu 
Zephyrus and Aurora 
" Thy kingdom come " 
Monument in Leeds Church 
Monument to Mrs. Knight 
Phaeton .... 

MONI'MENT TO LaDY ClARKE 

Monument to Mrs. Hoare 

Cupid 

Portrait of Patrick MACDO^VELL 

Fighting Gladiators 

"He shall give his angels 

THEE " . 

Portrait of John Giuson . 

P.SY'CHE PORNE PY' ZePHYRUS 

Monument in Heston Church 
The Consol.ation of Religion 
Cupid driving F.awns 
Monument to Mrs. Udney 

"Thy WILL BE DONE " 

Monument to Dr. Warton 
The Sound of the Shell . 

P.AOLO AND FuANCESCA 



PAGE 

80 

82 

S3 

8,5 

88 

89 

91 

97 

99 

101 

105 

lOo 

108 

109 
111 
121 
123 
125 
128 
129 
131 
133 
13,5 
138 




The Good Samaritcui [Fla.xman). 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



^OW wonderful it is, at first sight, tliat tlic greatest works of tlie liighcst 
Wy j^ of all tlie Arts were done two thousand years ago ! before the advent of 
Cliristianity, Avith its clearer and fuller development of the Moral ; before 
the multiform and active intellect of modern Europe increased the facilities of all 
manual operations, and gave us in all things a scientific basis. Since that da)- archi- 
tecture, both constructive and decorative, has been enriched by many inventions, and 
painting has acquired infinitely greater power by improved materials, by perspective, 
and so forth ; but Sciilpture remains as of old, because it can rise no higher. 

It would appear that all the progress we have made has been a progress of 
materialism, affording us many luxuries and endless knowledge, but leaving the 
vital part of us, or, as we may properly say, the divine part of us, untouched, "the 
same as on creation's day;" the cunning hand is no more cunning, and the form 
of humanity, made after the image of God, is no more perfect. 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



But the reason of tlie early perfection of the sculptor's art is not far to seek. 
His is the most direct and simple imitative process, and its limitations are the most 
severe. It deals with form alone, with solid bodies only, and thus it has no j^art 
in the difficult controversy between the real and the apparent, the conditioned and 
the absolute, but at once assumes the purple, ascends the steps of the temple, and 
associates itself with the gods. It takes no note of landscape about us, or indeed 
of the earth we inhabit, except as representing stream and mountain and wood in 
symbols of beauty, that beauty being its invariable aim, and the human body itself 
Vicing elevated into perfection. It re-creates the archetype, the antetypal idea, to 
use a modern Platonism, that must have existed in the Divine mind before the first 
vertebrate creature came into existence, as the ultimate completion and tendency 
of the forms of all the inferior animals. The ideal of the scrdptor is indeed 

" A revelation of the perfect man 
As at the first he was, and at the last 
He may be ; as he must be in the spirit." 

And thus it has been in all ages of the world that the molten or carven image has been 
superstitiously reverenced, and by the law given on Mount Sinai the chosen people 
were wholly prohibited indulging their artistic tastes in this direction. In this they 
were cut off from the rest of the world, and a line dravra dividing them from neigh- 
bouring nations, whose image-making they held in continual derision. " He heweth 
down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak ; and they shall be for a man to 
burn : for he will take thereof, and warm himself ; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh 
bi'ead ; with part thereof he eateth flesh ; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied : yea, he 
warmeth himself, and saith. Aha, I am Avarm, I have seen the lire : and the residue 
thereof he maketli a god, even his graven image : he fallcth down unto it, and 
worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, D«>livcr nic ; for thou art my God !" 
There is certainly no process of art which gives one so vivid a sense of creation 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



as that of moclelliug ; while the amorphous lump of potter's clay gradually assumes 
shape under the hand, and theu expression, we seem to feel, with a sort of mysterious 
surprise, that the third step may follow, and the image become the thing itself. So 
the fables of Prometheus, Vulcan, and Pygmalion have come into existence. There 
is a bas-relief in the Museo Pio-Clementino, at Eome, representing the making of 
man. One image lies on the ground finished, at the feet of the sculptor who is 
inscribed "Promethes," now busy with another, holding it by the arm with one hand 
and fashioning its head by a modelling tool with the other. This action shows he is 
working in a soft material, and as this second image is inscribed "Mulier," we may 
infer the one already made is the Adam to this Eve. Advancing to this group is 
" Mercurius,'' leading forward a small draped vii'ginal figure. Psyche-winged — the 
" Anima" to be bestowed on the sculptor's work; and following closely that fair and 
timid soul, come the inevitable Fates, the three mighty genii in whose hands are all 
the threads of life.* A more tender and human interest belongs to the Pygmalion 
story, "the man of Cyprus who made an image of a Woman, fairer than any that 
had yet been seen, and in the end came to love his own handiwork as if it had been 
alive : wherefore, praying to Venus for help, he obtained his end, for she made the 
Image alive indeed, and a Woman, and Pygmalion wedded her;" so that one poet 
after another has essayed the history, till Morris has succeeded in clothing it in fitting 
verse. How beautiful is this description of the finished b\it as yet unvitalised marble ! 
— " Wilt thou not speak one little word to me ?" he asks in vain. 

" Then from the image did he draw aback, 
To gaze on it through tears : and you had said, 
Eegarding it, that little did it lack 
To be a living and most lovely maid ; 



* This is of course a late work, expressing a Roman commentary on the Greek fable. Curiously 
enough, the figures of an ass and an ox, inscribed "Taurus" and " Asinus," are looking on above 
Prometheus, as they invariably do in all representations of the birth of Christ. 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



Naked it was, its unbound locks were laid 
Over the lovely shoulders ; with one hand 
Beached out as to a lover, did it stand. 

' The other held a fair rose over-blown : 
No smile was on the parted lips, the eyes 
Seemed as if even now great love had shown 
Unto them something of its sweet surprise, 
Yet saddened them with half-seen mysteries ; 
And still midst passion, maiden-like, she seemed 
As though of love unchanged for aye she dreamed. 



This -^orsliip and adoration of tlie work of our own hands aj^pears a far way 
behind in the world's history to the modern mind, and yet we find something like 
it in the enthusiasm of the critic, in whom learning and the love of art unite with 
an imaginative temperament. The Apollo Belvedere, Apollo the slayer of Python, 
a statue which some treat as a work of the beginning of the decadence when the 
sculptor left the generalisation of natiu-e for the generalisation of philosophy, has 
not only excited to madness the Gii-1 of Provence, celebrated in the days of other 
years by Barry Cornwall, but the grave Winkelmann, given mainly to the examina- 
tion of cameos tlu'ough a microscope and to disquisitions on Greek names. " The god 
is represented," he says, " in a movement of indignation against the serpent which 
has just killed, and in a sentiment of contempt for a victory so little worthy of a 
divinity. The wise artist placed the anger in the nose, which, according to the 
ancients, was its seat, and the disdain on the lips. He expressed the anger by the 
inflation of the nostrils, and the disdain by the elevation of the upper lip, which 
causes a corresponding movement in the chin. Penetrated with a conviction of his 
power, and lost in a concentrated joy, his august look penetrates far into the infinite, 
and is extended far beyond his victory. Disdain sits on his lips and ascends into liis 
eyebrows ; but an ruichangeable serenity is painted on his brow, and his eye is full 
of sweetness, as though the Muses were caressing him. The forehead is the forehead 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



of Jupiter, the eyebro"^^s aunoiince tlie supreme will, the large eyes are those of the 
queen of the gods orbed with dignity, and the mouth is an image of that of Bacchus, 
breathing Toluptuousness." After this description his fervour rises. "At the sight 
of this marvel of art my mind takes a supernatural disposition, fitted to judge of it 
■with dignity. From admiration I pass to ecstasy : I feel my breast dilating and 
rising, like those who are filled with the spirit of prophecy. I am transported to 
Delos, and the sacred groves of Lycia, places Apollo honoured with his presence ; 
the statue seems to be animated with the beauty that sprung of old from the hands 
of Pj-gmalion. Hoay can I describe thee, inimitable masterpiece ? For this it 
would be necessary that thou thyself should deign to inspire my pen. The traits 
that I have sketched I lay before thee, as those who came to crown the gods put 
their crowns at their feet, not being able to reach their heads." 




Monument to Mrs. Jane Smith i^FIaxman), 



THE BRITISH SCHOOI OF SCULPTURE. 



II. 

This book is a book of English Sculpture, illustrations of our dead artists, but still 
modern and near our own time, and so it is unnecessary, happily, to deal in these 
preliminary pages with any of the abstruse matters the bare mention of Greek art 
suggests. The reader may be sure he will not be required to listen again to the 
accoimt by Herodotus of its invention by the Egyptians ; nor to Mr. Bromley in his 
" History of the Fine Arts," trying to prove that the Scythians did all the original 
inventing, begiiming so early as thi-ec hundred years after the deluge. The history 
of the art in this country, however, is not a thing of yesterda)', but belongs to the 
middle ages, and we must divide English sculpture into two distinct periods and 
schools : the one during the thirteenth to the fifteenth century, and in the service 
of architecture and the Chm'ch ; the other a revival, under foreign influence aud 
classic inspiration, belonging to the latter half of last century. 

Later than the other leading nations of Europe, later even than our national 
school of painting, was this revival of sculpture. The existence of two or three great 
artists, however, and especially of one, John Flaxmau, has already placed us among 
the advanced nations in this art, which, indeed, the evidence of our early school 
shows to have been, in a measiu'e, natural to us. 

The thirteenth century, or more exactly the century beginning about 1220, is 
the active and flourishing period in the history of Pointed Architecture, both in 
France and in this country. In France, the cathecb'als of Chartres (where sculpture 
of the most impressive and noble cliaracter appears), Notre Dame of Paris and the 
Saint Chapelle there, Eouen, Amiens, Beauvais, Eheims, and many other great 
buildings, were rising at the same time. In England, Salisbury Cathedral, parts of 
York Minster, Westminster Abbey, Ely, Lichfield, Winchester, aud Exeter cathedrals, 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



all belong to this age of prodigious architectural activity. Besides these, the cathedral 
of Wells was nearly entirely built during the reign of Bishop Jocelin Trotemau, and 
its immense amount of sculptm-ed histories and figures completed. Of this work 
Flaxman says, in his Lectures, that he finds it to be the first specimen of magnificent 
and varied sculpture united in a series of sacred history to be found in Western 
Eirrope. "It is therefore probable," he goes on to say, "that the general idea of 
the work might have been brought from the East by some of the Crusaders," a 
singularly futile conjecture on the part of our great artist. Such a conjecture, 
indeed, seems to have been inspii-ed by the pestilent old insular habit of finding 
everything foreign preferable to everything English — a habit which has stood in 
the way of our improving in all the arts, since the practice of the East from the 
time of the Iconoclasts, long before the Crusades, down to the present, has been to 
place sculpture under a ban, and to employ painting almost exclusively on single 
figures. At the same time, he says there are two arguments strongly in favour of 
the work being English — the native name of the bishop, and the style, which is 
wholly different from that of the tombs of Edward the Confessor and Henry III., 
both wrought by Italian artists. 

In the architectiiral parts of these most probably we have foreign refinements in 
the inlaid enrichments of porphyry, but the recumbent monumental effigy of Henry 
lying on the tomb is now certainly known to have been made by Master William 
Torel ; that of Eleanor also, queen of Edward I. ; and these are the earliest metal 
statuary in this country, the yellow metal called lattcn, a little softer than bron/e, 
usually overlaid with gilding. The Eleanor is of great beauty and simplicity oi 
expression, the liair combed from the centre of the forehead down cither side of 
the face to the shoulders, the right hand holding the sceptre and the left touching 
gracefully the band or chain suspended round the neck. On the dress of this figure 
are many small rivet-holes, showing that decorations either of precious stones or of 
gold have been added round the neck, cufts, and similar places. 



THE BRITISH SCHOOT OF SCUIPTURE. 



William Torel appears, we are glad to see, along with William of Wykeham, — 
bishop of Winchester and architect of the cathedi-al there, and in some measui'e of the 
castle of Windsor, — as one of the representatives of early English art in the series of 
painted monumental figures of great artists of all times and countries in the South 
Court of the Museum at South Kensington, now the most compilete museum in the 
world of art-works of a decorative description. He died in 1300, and his loss seems 
to have been the loss of his art in England for the moment, as the next monumental 
figure we find in Westminster, 1304, that of Yalence, Earl of Pembroke, is formed 
of oak cased with copper, the work of one of the enamellers of Limoges, "Magister 
Johahnes de Limogia." 

Jnst at this time rose those lovely monuments called, for want of another name, 
C'rosses, memorials of Queen Eleanor's fimeral procession towards her final resting- 
place. These were full of niched figures, and those that remain are singularly 
excellent. Eegarding the sculptors of these, however, Flaxman speaks with hesi- 
tation. " They partake," he says, " of the character and grace particularly cultivated 
in the school of Pisano," and he consequently supposes may have been done " by 
some of the numerous travelling scholars fi-om Pisano's school," of whose existence 
we are otherwise ignorant. 

Besides the cathetbal of Wells, which is notable for its amplitude and early 
date, there is much architectiu-al sculpture on om- great churches of high excellence 
and interesting character. That on Lincoln Cathedral is perhaps next in interest 
and Westmacott, in his " Handbook of Sculpture," considers the improvement from 
the earlier work at Wells very ' decided. All those works are so deteriorated 
however, by accident and weather, that detailed critieisni is of little use. In this 
country it is only where the stone, marble, or metal have been protected from 
the climate as well as from cupidity or carelessness, that we find the art preserved 
in any degree of perfection, and happily three such monuments are mentioned with 
extraordinary praise by Flaxman. 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



1st. Tlae sculp tm*e of the door of All Souls College, iu the High Street, Oxford : 
Eling Henry YI. on one side, Archbishop Chicheley on the other, with a bas-relief of 
the Eesurrection between them. 

2nd. In Westminster Abbey, the deep arch which passes from the back of 
Henry V.'s tomb over the steps of Henry VII. 's chapel. Here are iipwards of fifty 
statues, with a centre group representing the coronation of Henry V., and on the 
south face the king riding with his companions. " The style is bold, the equestrian 
group furious and warlike, and the standing figures have a simple grandeur of 
drapery such as we admii-e in the paintings of Eaphael and Massaccio." 

3rd. The monument to Earl Warwick, in the Beauchamp chapel, St. Mary's 
Church, Warwick. Here " the figures are so natural and graceful that they are 
not excelled by any sculpture in Italy of the same kind at this time, although 
DonateUo and Ghiberti were living when this tomb was executed in the year 
1439."* 

This high praise from so great an authority warrants our description of the 
Warwick monument, had we space at command. A learned German the other day 
asked the writer to give him the name of one English media3val painter answering 
in this country to William of Cologne or Stephen, in Ehineland. Wc were under 
the necessity of acknowledging there was no English mediijeval painter, but we 
had a great scidptor of the later middle ages, William Austen, the artist of the 
Beauchamp chapel tomb. He is styled "citizen of London and founder," as at that 
time his craft or guild included the artist and his art as the greater includes the 
less. Additional interest attaches to this work from the fact of all tlic documents 
relating to it being extant, and from these we learn that he was to receive in sterling: 



* Flaxman is slightly wrong in the date of this work, which was in hand for twenty-one years, and 
finished about 1464. Have these small statues ever been moulded by the authorities of South Kensington 
Museum or others ? 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



money cxxv.li. for making the metal table and "hearze" with appliances, that is, 
the plane on which the figure was to lie with its ornaments and canopy or catafalque, 
inchiding ten enamelled scutcheons of arms, &c. ; for the " xiv Images embossed 
of Lords and Ladyes in divers vestiu'es called Weepers, to stand in housings," 
xiii.s. iv.d. each ; for " the xviii less Images of Angells to stand in other housings," 
y.s. ; and for the recumbent statue of the Earl, " the Image of a man armed and 
garnished with ornaments " fully described, xl.li. After these specifications follow 
various elaborate covenants with Bartholomew Lambespring, Dutchman and gold- 
smith, regarding the polishing, gilding, and burnishing of the same, the remuneration 
being nearly equal to that assigned to the artist. It would thus aj)pear that the 
patronage of the native sculptor was not then very generous, and we find the editor 
of Knight's Pictorial History remarking — •" In Italy Austen Avould have founded 
a school, and his name would have become co-extensive with the history of the 
art. In England his name is preserved from oblivion only by the existence of 
the contract which secures the performance of his work, and the record of the 
payment of \^s. id. each for these beautiful statues." 

The single motif of the sculptor, we have already indicated, is the embodiment 
of Beauty, and that in a perfect or in a symbolic relationship to natiu-e. That is 
to say, the sculptor as he existed in the authoritative Greek practice, and as he 
now aspires to be as an artist among us. 

But the sculpture we have been describing, and that of all Eiu'ope before the 
Eenaissance — more especially the greatest works, such as the gigantic statues on 
the porches at Cihartrcs, or the lovely Wise and Foolish Virgins surrounding the 
"Bride's door" of St. Scbald's, Niirnberg, the porch wherein marriages Averc celebrated 
at an early date, which, by the way, are slightly touched by the beginning of the 
new lights in art— had a different moiif and ^vas employed for a different purpose. 
At that time the various arts were not determinately separated from each other. 
The picture represented a statue, and the statue was illuminated and gilt ; the 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



relievo emulated the painting by giving many degrees of distance, a characteristic 
that the early and greatest works of the Eenaissance, the gates of the baptistery of 
San Giovanni by Ghiberti, reconcile ns with, the pictures in relievo thus visible 
being still the most lovely relievos in the world, although expressing the sun and 
the moon, the distant hills and the human actors receding on various planes. And 
we still see on many fine pictures in Italy real crowns, sceptres, ornaments of all 
kinds fixed on to the painted surface. Had we any pictures of that date remaining 
in England, doubtless we should find this practice much extended, and elevated or 
depressed surfaces employed on pictures. When the great struggle made by the 
Eastern Church against painted and sculptured images, as a cause of superstition, 
resulted in the total suppression of everything sculptm-ed, a new subterfuge was 
invented to supply its place ; the flat table of the paintiag was depressed in the 
principal parts, so that the face and hands appeared mysteriously to look thi-ough 
from below. This practice still continues, and the reader may remember seeing 
many such brought from the Crimea after the war there. And besides this confusion 
in the form of the art, the application of it to architecture and the Church exckisively 
impressed it with quite other character and sentiment, and Beauty was only admit- 
table as the symbol of Goodness. Angels were necessarily represented beautiful, and 
the saints also ; but to the ascetic theory then grinding the faces of the pious, purity 
and nakedness were incompatible, and so it was the human body, the crown and 
glory of creation, was for centuries never once represented with a view to the 
expression of its beauty, but rather associated with wickedness, and therefore with 
ugliness. This, in a measure, puts the sculptors of the middle ages out of court as 
sculptors in the highest field, but they re-enter it with the chant of sacred song, 
all draped in a multitude of white folds, signifying, beyond all words, unity of 
character, simplicity, purity, dignity ; and, in a lower walk, di-amatic individuality 
and human passion. Drapery becomes, in their hands, informed by the nature of 
the character represented, and a quite new and unclassic artistic instinct throws it 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



into long lines and large volumes irrespective of the body it liides, or rather replaces, 
filled with sentiment and loveliness. 

The time came, u-respective of the Keformation, because Pointed architecture ran 
into the Perpendicular, and then into the Tudor formula, and writing and illumi- 
nation gave way to printing and engraving, when all the arts were to stand or fall 
by their own inherent tendencies; and in this country their emancipation, and 
declension for a time, were accelerated and emphasised by the change in religion. 
Our medifeval School of Sculpture ceased. 




iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillililiiiliiilliiiiiiiiiiiiiM 

Monument to Itilliam Collins (Flaxiiuvi). 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 13 



III. 

BetweejsT this time, say the time of Hem-y VIII., and the rise of our present 
School— employing itself, like the plastic art of all the rest of Europe, mostly on 
monumental themes, and under the authority of Greek and Eoman remains collected 
into museums and placed in our academies for education — there is a vacuum of fully 
two centuries ; and the difference between the earlier and the later is so complete 
that we may here, with advantage, say a few words regarding the antique, the cause 
of the change. 

This is the more desirable, however short the space to which we must confine 
our remarks, since it is exactly this classic spirit and the re-embodying of the 
gods of Greece and the Eoman pantheon, the fables of Ovid and the Homeric 
myths, that restrict the influence of the art in modern times, and limit the 
sculptor's audience compared with that of the painter. Whether or not there is 
inherent ia the art something that divides it from all other developments of mind, 
that are continually changing according to the spirit of the ages, and keeps it 
revolving round its original themes, it is quite certain that it has done so in a 
great measure of late years. The study of the ancient poets had a large eff'ect on 
the modern bard, who ceased to relate in short metres his ballad histories and 
romances, and became for a time the ''votary of the Mne," imploring their aid in 
beginning his work, whatever it might be, in Dryden's "heroic" measure. This 
was, with us, rather an importation of the French taste than a direct imitation of 
the Latin poets, our neighbours having adopted classicism of the coldest description, 
both on the stage and in the library. But this quickly disappeared, and now we 
indidge but little in references to the tuneful quire, or the green slopes of Parnassus. 
Painting, "the Christian art," as it has been called, in distinction from sculpture, 

E 



,4 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



the Pagan or Pantheistic, succumbed for a time also ; and, in the days when the 
Bolognese school was triumphant, filled the world in an incredibly short time with 
allegories and gods on cloudy Olympus. ISTor do we think that sculpture has given 
way to the same influences to a greater extent than we might expect, considering 
the perfection of the antiques with which it had to contend for the mastery. 

Consider for a moment the assthetic splendour and eternal significance of the 
resuscitated ideas, and we shall not wonder that they have so largely dominated 
in the atelier of the modern artist. Church and cloister, the fields for Byzantine 
art, repudiated all sensuous or poetic enjoyment, and, even while employing the 
arts, subjugated them, and would have boimd them in Egyptian bondage had they 
possessed the power. Take, for instance, the tomb of the great dead or the beloved 
relative. Self-abnegation denied the living the pleasure of praising or commemorating 
the departed, and for centuries only one attitude appears, that used in prayer by the 
Eoman Catholic Church.* It became stereotyped, an art-mummy, and there existed 
no monumental means of keeping before the eyes of the living the great patriot or 
poet who had left them their inheritance ; nor during all these centuries did any 
single artist venture to try to express any form of love except that of self-sacrifice, 
nor to enrich in any way the life he led. Whatever was worth having was to be 
found not in this world, but in the next. The reaction has not yet ceased. 

We must remember that Sculpture is Ideal in spirit, biit thoroiighly Material 
in form, and the symbolic significance of Athena and Artemis and Aphi'odite, fits 
these goddesses to be for ever the embodiment of wisdom, of maidenhood, or of love. 
Nor was it all at once that the antique asserted its authority. Mantegna and 



* " The action of the palms pressed together is undoubtedly rather that of submission than prayer. 
The vassal knelt before his liege lord, placed his two palms together, and presented his hands thus joined 
to his Superior. The ancients expressed supplication by the arms extended ; that the early Christians 
did the same is shown by the figures painted in the Catacombs called 'Orantes.' The English Church 
also adopts the early form ; only the extremely ritualistic ignorantly imitate the middle-ago attitude."— 
" Half-hour Lectures on the History and Practice of the Fine Arts," by W. B. Scott, p. 115. 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 15 



Donatello were among the first artists to advocate the collecting of tlie great works 
then being rapidly exhumed m Eome and Tuscany, but neither of them abdicated 
in favour of the antique, and Michelangelo, who studied diligently in the garden 
and museum of Cosmo de Medici, retained his own mighty style unaltered. There 
is an anecdote of him preserved, showiag that he visited the Laocoon while that 
group, so allied to his own art, was being dug out of the earth, without any record 
of emotion or enthusiasm having been drawn from him by the sight. Giulio Eomano, 
Sir Charles Eastlake remarks, was the first complete specimen of a painter who united 
high excellence in art with an exclusive passion for classic subjects, and he may be 
considered the great head of the classic school, influencing even the works of his 
master, Eaphael, who confided so much to his hand. Eastlake, indeed, traces the 
example of Giulio, through Primaticcio, his subordinate associate at Mantua, into 
Prance, and from the palace of Fontainebleau, which Primaticcio decorated with 
subjects from the Odyssey, into the very life-blood of French art, in which classi- 
calities and Olympic platitudes have remained ever since. The passion for the 
ancient marbles was rather a learned than an artistic movement, "paganism" was 
plentiful enough, and would not stand in the way, but the time was not come for 
true sympathy with elevated antiqiie art, although, as Eoscoe says, "the production 
of a genuine specimen of antiquity secui-ed to the fortunate possessor, in the time of 
Leo X., a competency for life, and the acquisition of a fine statue was almost 
equivalent to that of a bishoprick." The reader may remember, in Eobert Browning's 
dramatic lyric, the dying bishop of that day orders his children assembled round 

his bod to make his tomb sumptuous, 

" Black— 
'Twas ever antique-black I meaut ! How else 
Shall yc contrast my frieze to come beneath ? 
The bas-relief in bronze ye promised me, 
Those Pans and Nymphs ye wot of, and perchance 
Some tripod, thyrsus, with a vase or so, 
The Saviour at his sermon on the mount, 



1 6 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



St. Praxed in a glory, and one Pan 
Ready to twitch the Nymph's last garment off, 
And Moses with the tables — but I know 
Ye mark me not !■" 



au admirable expression of the licerLtious love of splendour tlien prevalent, a state not 
at all condncive to the understanding of the antique. 

And how rich and full of thought and of poetry it is ! Aphrodite, for example, 
in how many thousand ways is she the embodiment of the Feminine celebrated by 
statue and gem, approaching Urania on one side, and the sensuous on the other ; 
Ycnus Genitrix, and Yenns Yictrix, sea-born Aphrodite, held up by Thalassa, 
upborne by Tritons, on a sea-horse di'aped with Eros, surrounded by Nereids, sitting 
in an opening shell, as a fisher with Cupid watching ! This wealth of symbolic 
meaning it is that keeps the ancient fable and ancient art young for ever, and the 
repetition of the old motives in modern varieties adds to their interest. The opposite 
view is expressed in the Handbook to the International Exhibition of 1S62, by 
Mr. F. T. Palgrave. " Serious as the subject claims to be, I confess it is difficult 
to think of ISToUeken's Venu%^ Canova's Venus., Thorwaldsen's Ycnus, Gibson's Venus., 
everybody's Yenus, with due decorum — one fancies one healthy modern laugh 
would clear the air of these idle images^one agrees with the honest old woman in 
the play, (?) who ' preferred a roast duck to all the birds in the Heathen Mytho- 
logy.' " From the honest old woman's and from the play's point of view, no doubt 
she was right; if they were called " Love," or " Maidenhood," would they be better? 
We are reminded of an anecdote of the studios a foAV years back, when a dealer 
managed to sell a " Yenus " by a well-known painter, who had found it entirely 
unsaleable himself, and who, on expressing surprise, was answered, "Yes, it is sold; 
it is gone to Liverpool. You called it ' Yenus,' but I called it ' Innocence ' ! " 

Still more varied, if possible, is the treatment of the boy Cupid himself, although 
not by any means so important, indeed of no importance at all until the later ages 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



'7 



of the liistory of ancient civilisation, when we find him winged and without wings, 
bendiag his bow and sharpening his arrows, sleeping and watching, breaking in 
pieces the insignia of all the gods, riding on the lion and the panther, or ro"S'ing 
among sea-monsters. Always unharmed, he is the master of all things, golden-haired 
with Anteros the black-haired, or grown older with Psyche the soul. 

Who can wonder that for a little space — and it has only been for a little space as 
yet — the English sculptor should be carried away by these old ideas ? Perhaps the 
reader remembers Mr. F. T. Palgrave's violent attack on the mythological in liis 
descriptive handbook to the Great Exhibition of 1862, well merited in his point of 
view, but which the world at large thought rather severe. The wonder is that this 
spii'it should have reached us so late in the day, seeing we were not very long- 
behind the rest of Europe (Italy excepted) in collecting the ancient marbles. 




{^J-'/a.\jiiaii.) 



,S TUE BRITISH SCHCOI OF SCULPTURE. 



IV 



Neaely the only use of sculpture in England from the end of the Tudors to the 
middle of the reign of George III., was its employment against the inner walls of 
our churches, especialljr in the chancels, to commemorate the dead. A few public 
statues were erected, but these were generally imported from Holland, and often 
made of lead, like that dilapidated exainple in Leicester Scj^uare. Sir Christopher 
Wren superintended some productions of this kind, at least one we hear of, by an 
artist named Sarson, of James II., erected at ]SJ"ewcastle-on-Tyne, not existing now. 
The Charles I., now standing at Charing Cross, is considered to have been the first 
equestrian monument erected in this country, and it was cast by a Fr(mchmau in 
1633, seven years after the coronation of that unfortunate king, just at the time 
when there tvciH an able artist in England, one who would have risen to greatness 
in more favourable times, the only sculptor we can now point to with pleasm-e in all 
that di-eary period. 

This is Kicolas Stone, who was appointed ''master mason and architect,'' with a 
ro3^al salary, and several of whose principal A\'orks can still be pointed to in West- 
minster Abbey, alth<mgh the statues of kings he did for tlie old (at that time the new) 
Eoyal Exchange disappeared, at least tivjm pid)lic view, when that building -was 
destroyed by tire. Tliose at Westminster are the large monument to Sir George 
Villiers and his lady, an important work of its ki]ul, and that to Mr. Holies. This 
last is near the Avell-known one to Lady Nightengale, a brilliant invention, described 
as " the most capital performance of that great master of scul})tiu'e, Mr. Eoubiliac." 
Stone's design ^vill not compare with this, but has certain solid qualities of its own, 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 19 

and lias been distinguished by Flaxman as having " a graudciu- of coneejDtion by no 
means common at that time." 

To -fl'alk round this Campo Santo of London is to see nearly all that is noteworthy 
in our monumental art f(jr centuries, interesting, certainly, in a high degree, as 
showing the vagaries of invention utterly freed from restraint, and generally when 
the times were out of harmony with such undertakings. I remember the wonderful 
histories the verger used to tell his flocks of visitors a great many years ago : — How 
the young alabaster lady, the daughter of Lord Kussel, who holds out her hand, 
pointing in fact to a death's head, had died from a prick of her finger, and that here 
she was represented as she lay when she was found bleeding to death ! And how he 
used to stop before a particular naval hero's cenotaph, and tell every one in turn 
to stoop down and look through the undercutting of a coil of ropes, assuring them 
that this Avas the most wonderful thing in the abbey ! Such misguided and mis- 
guiding folly could not exist, one would think, in subordinates, without a proportionate 
ignorance in the powers above them. The present wi'iter himself remembers being 
ashamed even as a boy to listen to the great man in a black gown. This is happily 
no longer required, but, alas ! other delusions still exist in relation to the art of 
sculpture. One of these we have had illustrated of late years, too painfully, and 
too exasperatingly to the professors of the art. 

Does the reader remember the furore of admiration excited by the figure called 
"The Greek Slave ? " a figure which seemed to express the English you.ng lady in 
very improper nakedness, and, sad to say, imconsciousness of her nakedness, with a 
chain fancifully attached to her wrist like a festoon ? The extent to wliich the mass 
of general society arc competent to appreciate the real merits of the highest class of 
art may be estimated by the admii-ation this really pretty, but quite common-place, 
production excited. Of course there were many female statues of excellent modelling 
and high feeling in that great collection in which the " Greek Slave" appeared, the 
first of all the International Exhibitions, 185L Eichard Wyatt's " Glycera," 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



for one, and even Bell's "Dorothea," wliich. one might have expected wonld have 
been more than popnlar, bnt that character wc have indicated made Mr. Powers's 
■work distance all other scnlptiire in public favour. 

A few j^ears later, the Sydenham Crystal Palace approaching completion, the 
Managing Committee, after purchasing many of the most important productions 
of the schools of Germany, Prance, and Belgium, bethought them of our own 
sculptors, now respected throughout the world, bnt instead of doing the same 
to the more eminent men, professors of the art, invited them to send their works 
in gratis. Nor would the committee meet the artists even half way; so that 
remarkable display of courts, ancient and modern, ornamented with all the Avorks 
most celebrated in the history of the world, or in the later art of other countries, 
opened with a systematic carelessness of the works of our own. 

When the vote for a monument to the Duie of Wellington was passed, there 
was a chance that some foreign artist would be employed. These twenty years 
now nearly past has made such a proposition appear incredible, and yet the Sculptors' 
Institute laiew that such an insult was then too possible, and addressed a memorial 
to the late Sir Benjamin Hall on the subject. The evil was averted,* but the time- 
honoured prejudice, in favour of other art than our own, found vent in other ways. 
In an evil hour an Italian, who had acquired iu his own country (now, alas ! 
grovelling in the dust of the past in all matters of art) the title of baron, by having 
built up a monument of striking character to the late king, Charles Albert, who 
fought and lost the day for the unification of Italj', came to London, and immediately 
took possession of all tlu; commissions of importance. He is now gone from the 
light of day, and the maxim, " Nothing saA'o good of the dead,'' bars the Avay 
against the adverse criticism which would have been necessary had he been still 



" We are sony to say this monument has never been completed, altbouj;-h the time alknved by the 
contract has long expired. Regarding this matter it is unnecessary for us to speak. 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



alive. In the handbook already mentioned, Baron Marochetti received the severest 
censure, but not before his day was drawing to a close, the great memorial to be 
erected at Scutari after the Crimean war having proved a fiasco of the saddest kind, 
and the Peel statue also, which was unveiled after his death. From his hand we 
have many public works remaining, all performed in the few years he lived 
among us, most notably the Kichard Cceur de Lion, which, though censured by 
the jury \n. 1851, now appears permanently near the Houses of Parliament — 
a record of spirited conception, hiding the most inaccurate and incomplete art. 
Compared to the horses of some of our much-maligned equestrian monuments, or 
to that of Lord Hardinge, by Foley, that of Cceur de Lion is altogether 
wanting, and yet the horse as weU as the rider has a romantic impetus and a 
force that distinguishes it. If in sculptural marble and bronze there was any 
analogue to the sketch in painting, this and other works of Marochetti would take 
legitimate rank therein. 

In the International Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862 there were more complete 
exhibitions of our British school of sculpture than had ever been seen before. 
The one great name in ova English annals is that of Flaxman, a name that must rank 
in European importance with those of Canova and Thorwaldsen, however essentially 
different is the genius of all three. Beneath him, but still great, there are several 
whose works appeared there, as Bank's "Thetis" and Watson's "Sarpedon." Here 
were also K. J. Wyatt's "Girl Bathing," Westmacott's "Mother," BaUey's "Eve," 
MacdoweU's " Eeader," the "Cupid," by Behnes, "Love" and "Arthur and 
Constance," by Woolner. Here also the experimental work by Gibson, applying 
colour to the marble, an experiment which will never approve itself to the modern 
mind, however complete may be the proof adduced that the noblest sculptors of 
antiquity, including Phidias himself, adopted the emichment, and that it prevailed 
indeed from the archaic times down to the late Eoman. And many besides — 
Gatley's immense "Pharaoh" reKef, Miss Hosmer's "Zenobia," and many more 





THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



by Bell, Durham, Lough, Munro, Hancock, Theed. Our selections of illustrations, 
however, being confined to the men who are no more with us in daily life, the 
elders of our school, it is undesirable that we speak further of these for the present. 
We shall, therefore, leave the descriptive notices accompanying the plates to 
elucidate fiu'ther the history of the art in England. 




Moinimciii l,> R,",<. T. Ball (Flaxm.ii,\ 




Cupid and Psyche [Fla.xman). 



JOHN BACON. 



NARCISSUS. 




.1! 




^ 



Cupid and Psyche (Gibson). 



JOHN BACON 

(and his predecessors). 

^^liSiHE first sculptor, an illustration of whose art we projwse giving, is Bacon; 
%^ ^X ^^^ ^^ ^^ ^® necessary, previous to noting some particulars regarding 
himself and his works, to bring down our short account of the art of 
sculpture in England itself, from the beginning of the eighteenth century, when 
there may be said to have been a total cessation of the art in this country. 

When Nicolas Stone was finishing the monuments, abeady mentioned, erected 
by him in Westminster Abbey, a young man made his appearance in London and 
began to be employed by him. This was Gains Gabriel Gibber or Gibert, a native 
of Holstein, who had been already noticed by the King of Denmark and sent to 
Eome through his means, where he had imbibed to some extent the unquiet and 

H 



26 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



coarse manner then in vogue in the great city, becoming at tliat time, what it 
has been ever since, the head-quarters of the professors of the art. Having 
enjoyed his given time there, he followed the example of the numerous foreign 
painters and others, who constantly flocked over, and found in this country a 
ready harvest, either for a year or a life time ; and once here never left England 
again, but died deservedly rich and in great regard, leaving his son CoUey, the 
author of the " Careless Husband " and many other works, growing into fame. 

At that time freestone, not marble, was the material employed, and the prin- 
cipal work of the sculptor was ornamental. He was a master mason and landscape 
gardener ; and after the death of Nicolas, who employed a host of workmen and 
had made Gibber his foreman, he soon became as extensively engaged on the same 
kind of work. The line of kings for the Eoyal Exchange he carried down to 
King Charles (whether fii-st or second does not appear), and became associated 
with St. Paul's, then nearly built, by Sir Christopher Wren getting him to carve 
a Phoenix over the southern door, at the charge of a hundred pounds, and which 
measures eighteen feet by nine. 

Gibber's aspii-ations were for classical things, or rather, without drawing dis- 
tinctions too fine, let us say quasi-classical, employed for the most part in imitation 
of the Boboli, Albano, and similar gardens in Italy, as indeed the Luxembourg 
and others in France were also emulating. The third Delia Eobbia had been 
employed at Fontainebleau, and Palissy's extinct kiln was lately dug up near the 
Lonvi'e, the flivourite decoration of that age and the preceding being to fill long 
vistas with great vases on pedestals, terminals, and altars ; and Gibber went down 
to Chatsworth, to Hardwicke Hall, and other places, to carve on the spot, not only 
these purely decorative adjuncts, but many statues of fauns and nymphs, gods 
and goddesses. Neptune and his Tritons appeared on a rock in the middle of the 
pond, Diana in the grove, and Yenus herself in some favourite shady arbour. We 
are far from thinking this taste bad or wrong, nor is it fliir to ridicule it because 



JOHN BACON. 27 



we cannot have summer all the year round : such enrichments are productive of 
the most lovely results. Nor was it exactly new, the previous custom having been 
to import leaden figures from Holland, now almost entirely gone, melted down 
for the value of the metal, small as that is. Freestone can be applied to no 
other use, and one would say the only possible treatment is to let it stand, and yet 
the most of Gibber's work has disappeared as completely as the leaden figures 
in trunk hose, or farthingales, and high-heeled shoes, that preceded his statues. 

At this very time Grinling Gibbons, Dutchman or Englishman by birthplace 
we cannot now tell, was carving the elaborate friezes, festoons, chimney-pieces, 
and door cases, in the same houses where Gibber was employed. These of course 
were in wood, and to this day " excite the wonder and delight of all beholders," 
as country guide-books say. At Chatsworth in particular are many of his most 
elaborate things, particularly in the chapel; and "in the great ante-chamber," 
Walpole points out, " are several dead fowls over the chimney finely executed, 
and over a closet door a pen not distinguishable from a real feather; and when 
Gibbons had finished his works in that palace, he presented the duke with a point 
cravat, a woodcock, and a medal with his own hand, all preserved in a glass case 
in the gallery." " There is no instance of a man before Gibbons who gave to 
wood the loose and aiiy lightness of flowers, and chained together the various 
productions of the elements with a freer disorder natural to each species." Allan 
Cunningham, whose biographies of artists provide us with these details, rushes 
into ecstasies over these works : " All the wood-carving in England fades away 
before that of Gibbons at Ghatsworth." (If he means ancient tracery, curious 
misereres, &c., he is comparing uncomparable things ; if only similar point lace, 
birds' feathers, &c., there are no others.) "The birds seem to live, the foliage 
to shoot, and the flowers to expand before the eye. The most marvellous work 
of all is a net of game ; you imagine at first sight that the gamekeeper has 
hung up his day's sport on the wall, and that some of the birds are still in the 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



death-flutter." The freestone has crumbled and gone, the wood remains, its 
delicacy has saved it. 

To retm-n to Gibber, from the memoranda of accounts still existing it does 
not appear his prices were very large, yet the facility with which a skilful stone- 
carver works, with or without a drawing, but without a model, because at that 
time copying a model exactly was a difficult matter, is truly wonderful to the 
uninitiated. For two pedimental figiu-es, each of them foiu- tons of stone, he receives 
£140 ; for a roimd statue with a boy on his shoulder, £60 ; and for twelve Csesar's 
heads, £5 a piece. Of all these decorative productions we know nothing ; but 
that Gibber was really a true and powerful artist, is put entirely beyond a doubt 
by the two terrible figures of ''Madness" and "Melancholy," formerly over the 
entrance at Moorfields, and now under shelter at the New Asylum in St. George's 
Fields. These are not beautiful indeed, nor have they the elevated mystery of 
the Day and K"ight on the tomb of the Duke Giuliano de Medici, and besides one 
may admit that the significance of them in connection with a hospital for the 
insane was too real and painful ; but there can be no question that they are indeed 
works of genius, original and vital, a problem as appearing in that age, a problem 
also proceeding from a man engaged ia cutting conventional gods and ornamental 
Italian adjrmcts to sumptuous and ostentatious architectiu-e. I feel quite inclined 
to subscribe to the verdict that they were the earliest indications in modern 
sculpture of a distinct and natiu-al life, and that "they stand fii'st in conception 
and only second in execution among all the productions of the island." 

There are some names that appear both in French and EngKsh histories of the 
arts and biographical dictionaries. Loutherbourg, for instance, is ia the French 
part of Gharles Blanc's excellent "Histonc des Peiatres," as well as in Guunino'ham's 
" Lives." Another of these is Eoubiliac, a man of very peculiar ability, of whom it 
is usual now to speak mirthfully, but whose weak points themselves are intcrestiti" 
and whose invention and executive power are both immense. lie was the monimicntal 



JOHN BACON. 19 



and portrait sculptor wliile Cibber was the ornameiLtal and Gibbons the carver; 
and it must be owned the trio, who had now to contend with native ability, are 
all respectable. The sculptor of the statues of Handel, Shakespeare, Newton at 
Trinity College, Cambridge, and many others, is one of the most important figures 
in our art-history, and as long as poetic allegory is admitted iato sculpture — which 
must be for ever — the Nightengale monument we all know in "Westminster Abbey 
must be held in great respect. 

Nearly all through last century, if there were few sculptors and small demand 
for marbles of any description, there was a large trade iii plaster ornament. The 
ceilings of rooms, especially in all large houses, were covered by thin and delicate 
tracery, in the taste of the age, the principal member being the festoon tied with 
fluttering ribbon. The architects were all more or less accoimtable, not only for 
these details, but they most frequently held the commission for all works wherein 
stone, plaster, or marble were required, including monuments, so that many of the 
immense but abortive attempts in design in "Westminster and elsewhere — the 
architectural portion below being itself very ignorantly planned — must be accredited 
to the architects. The first rebel sculptor who stood out for being his own master 
was the son of a maker of these plaster ornaments, who had inherited a large fortune 
therefrom. This was "Wilton; but, sad to say, the new-found liberty brought only 
more immense and more abortive masses into existence, such as that commemorating 
the Earl and Countess of Montrath, where marble clouds supporting seraphs and 
cherubs float half way up the wall of the nave. 

These unhappily are the early examples of modern native sculpture we have to 
show ; but a very few years later an artist of a very difi'erent stamp appeared, in 
the person of Thomas Banks, in whose few works, mostly done in advanced life 
near the end of the century, we see the result of diligent study of the antique, with 
refined and fastidious natui'al taste — that character of poetic sculpture indeed which 
has continued to us with enlarged excellence through Flaxman and later men. "We 



30 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE, 



may say, indeed, that Banks is the first true sculptor in oiu- modern school, and in 
respect to mastery of execution and completeness, nothing has yet gone beyond 
his finest works. In saying this, the writer ought, however, to acknowledge that 
he does so on the authority of Flaxman and others, having scarcely seen any work 
by Banks ; * the authority mentioned, however, the reader may think preferable to 
our own ! The bas-relief, " Thetis rising from the Sea to console Achilles," in the 
ISTational Gallery, quite sustains his high character in that department of the art. 

And now at last we may arrive at John Bacon, a hard-workiag and hard-thinking 
man without refinement, who began life at a porcelaia manufactory in London, 
never went to Rome, but was ui a great degree self-taught, always considered the 
moral aspect of everythiag, and succeeded in all his undertakiags. A remarkable 
man, pious and zealously attached to the Methodism then passing like electric fii-e 
from place to place under Wesley and Whitefield, yet knowing in the ways of the 
world, courtly with priuces, joyous with the joyful, calculating with the sordid, 
and eager among stockbrokers. Born at Southwark in 17-10, most of his early 
years were passed in earning his own living, and suddenly at middle life he 
emerged into great repute and practice, dying a few months before the end of the 
century. 

The changes in critical taste in relation to sculpture have been greater and more 
dangerous to the future estimate of works done in any prevailing manner than in 
any other art, even architecture. At the present day commemorative statues of 
great men are treated as portrait-statues. "In his habit as he lived" is the form 
invariably adopted to laand down to posterity the likeness of the kiug, soldier, or 
hero of letters, arts, or sciences. The king has been lately treated in unkingly 



* The large group of Sbakespeare, with female genii, removed two years ago from the British 
Institution buOding, Pall Mall, was done by Banks, for Boydell ; but, it is said, did not exhibit his art 
at its best. What has now become of this group ? Or, to extend the question, what has become 
of the pictures and funds belonging to the extinct British Institution ? 



JOHN BACON. 



plainness of costume — if equestrian, the soldier being the only character having 
now an invariable distinction of dress. And there is no doubt, a century or two 
hence, this is the treatment that will most interest future observers, even as 
we iind impersonations of the chiefs of past ages so treated appeal to all our 
sympathies at present. The first and second bronze monuments erected in modern 
Europe, and perhaps the noblest, the equestrian statues of Gattamelato, by Donatello, 
at Padua, and that of CoUeoni, by Veroccio, in the little campo in front of 
SS. Giovanni e Paolo, in Venice, show us every bit of armour and all the 
belongings of these warriors exactly as they bore them, and that itself is now 
immensely interesting. But to contemporaries there would be no interest of the 
same kind, and at the present day the ungainly and inexpressive disguise of our 
ordinary civilian dress is not only not interesting, but absolutely repulsive in 
bronze or marble. The ancients adopted a large license of nakedness, and our 
sculptors of the latter half of last century followed their- example, without reflecting 
on the differences between drapery and tailoring — between the climate of the south 
and north. The first statue of Napoleon placed on the column in the Place 
Yendome was nude ; this was replaced by that lately destroyed in the habit of 
the chasseurs. We all remember the Dr. Johnson and John Howard on the right 
and left of the entrance to the chancel of St. Paul's. These give a high idea of 
Bacon's power as a monumental sculptor. There is great dignity and even 
characteristic expression— the troubled but benevolent moroseness of Johnson that 
we recognise in all his portraits, and the readiness of action of Howard, " unwearied 
in well-doing," are equally fine ; yet the semi-nakedness makes them so uncertain 
of identification, that a "distinguished foreigner," misled by the key in the hand 
of Howard, might be pardoned for mistaking them for Peter and Paul — an insular 
reading without the beards ! 

The group at Somerset House is another familiar example, and this is in 
bronze. Large metal castings at that time were surrounded with expensive 



32 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



difficulties, and Bacon kept his foundry door locked from all inquirers, though 
it does not appear he had any new lights on the subject ; his mechanical powers, 
however, were shown in important improvements in the machine employed in 
copying the model into marble. 

His poetic works are very few, as we may expect; indeed, he was too full of 
commissions of a different kind, and being so, he coveted more, and made a 
proposition to the Government offensive to his professional bretkren. At a time 
when many public works were in agitation, he offered to do all national monuments 
at a reduced price, a proposition quite singular in art history, except perhaps 
in the reputed greediness of Tintoret, who, it is said, wished no one to have any 
public work but himself. This, it may be in part, that gave the bias against 
him reported by Flaxman and others, who will not allow him to have had any 
of the higher qualities of the sculptor. 

One of these few poetic subjects is "Narcissus," which, although not an 
invention of any transcendent genius, has a true expression of the moment when 
the vain youth first falls in love with himself. 





z->'> \^. 



jas^.-v 




-,'^. 



<f^ 




Cupid and Psyche (Flaxman). 



JOHN FLAXMAN, 



MICHAEL AND SATAN. 



K 




JOHN FLAXMAN 

(nollekens and others). 




*>i&^$k^EEAT as are the vicissitudes of works of art, those of the fame of the 
artists are greater ; success for the day aud success for all time, Avhich 
is justice, are so different. The father of a lately deceased judge, to whom 
fell all the prizes in his profession, substantial aud tangible prizes, used to sa}- 
in the days when phrenology was in fashion, that " his son had the bump of 
getting-on-itivencss ; " and in the profession of art during the first half of life this 
quite supplementary bump on the human cranium is more important than any 
other. But when the externals of piosition and, for a time, ample commissions 
reward the man of tact, even if he attain the highest honours, he may outlive 



35 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



his reputation unless it be based ou bis works ; and tbere is a bidden instinct in 
tlie minds of all perceptive men tbat tells tbem, in spite of tbe demoralisation 
of any exclusive privileges, tbat tbey bave bad tbeir reward, and tbat tbe 
inevitable balance will some day and some bour be struck against tbem. Tbey 
feel wbat Dr. Watts tbinlis we all sbould feel, — 

" The numbered hour is on the wing 

That lays us with the dead." -. 

Wlien NoUekens in bis old age witb bis vast wealtb was receiving attentions 
from legacy - bunters, one bringing "tbe Frencb Giant" in a coacb to amuse 
bim, anotber cbeesecakes, and a tliird pig-tail tobacco cut into quids sucb as an 
epicure in tbat abomination would like, anotber calling for bim to take bim in 
bis carriage to sec tbe first almond tree in tbe spring, anotber bringing sbowy 
plants to stand on tbe table, so tbat be migbt see tbem from bis bed, — be 
doubtless felt, not merely tbat tbe day of bis life, but tbe day of bis art and its 
reputation was waning. Bacon's group of Sbakespeare is removed from tbe old 
Boydell Grallery in Pall Mall, and no one asks wbere it bas gone. A few years 
ago, Mrs. Damer's statue (tbe Hon. Miss Conway) decorated, alone of its kind, 
tbe vestibule of tbe Britisb Museum, but now "its place knows it no more." 
Wbo was Jobu Flaxman wben tbese tkree sculptors were attracting all tbe 
attention of tbe dllef/kinti ? 

I must relate tbe life of Flaxman in a great measure from Allan Ciuiningbam, 
be being tbe central figure in tbe company of departed sculpt(n's, and in our 
present volume, it is desirable to give some detailed account of bim. Besides 
tbe cbaracter itself is so toucbing and interesting, so innocent and so clearly 
cut in tbe unity of its moral and intellectual life, tbat tbe closer we study it 
tbe more cbarming it becomes. Not tbat Flaxman was by any means a noble 
or attractive man, or even a Christian knight, or indeed in his personality bad 



JOHN FLAX MAN. 37 



lie never made liis designs for Homer, Hesiod, and tlie Greek dramatists, "^^as 
there anything to draw tlie love of other men to him ; yet we recognise at 
once a balanced, sincere, thonghtful, and just artistic nature. 

His father is always described as " a moulder of figures," and as he had 
a shop, this seems to mean a manufacturer of casts in plaster of Paris ; a trade, 
generally speaking, all over Europe, carried on by Italians. We are told that 
he made professional pilgrimages to the country, and that in the course of one 
of these journeys, in which his wife accompanied him, the child John ^Avas 
bom at York, in 1755. When that field was exhausted, the family returned 
to London, father, mother, and two boys. The father must have been a worthy 
man, as his chilcben ascribed their well-being to him ; diligent and careful, he 
went about to sculptors, assisting them Avhcn the clay model was finished to get 
the more permanent cast, and had a small shop in New Street, Covent Garden, 
and afterwards in the Strand, in the window of which we may safely figure to 
ourselves the small reductions of the fighting and dying gladiators, the Antinous, 
and all the other stock pieces so much valued long ago, — a shop like the shops 
of all formatori, very white and powdery, but removed entirely from all sordid 
or vulgar elements. This shop was the unvarying scene of the boy's life, who 
was so weak from his birth that the greatest care only brought him tlrrough 
"that long disease, his infancy," and then only as a puny body, in some 
measure deformed, and always fond of retirement and studious quiet. 

Unable to go among other boys, he sought amusement among the "images" 
and materials about him ; he sat for months and years in a little stuffed chair, 
raised so high that he could just see over the counter, trying to teach himself 
reading, both English and other languages, with such books as he could get, 
relieving one solitary occupation by another, the black chalk and paper being 
suppKed him by his mother when his father was from home. The customers 
of such a shop are generally people of cultivation and taste, and the grave, 

L 



38 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



tliiu, little face looking at the erratic world out of its invalid chaii- made an 
impression on every one, more especially as it was found the child of six or 
seven years of age was already trying, in a tentative way of course, since drawing 
did not come, as music did to Mozart and others, without labour. The father 
seems to have shown some of the child's efforts to Eoubiliac, a few years before 
he died, and very likely the aged sculptor was right in treating them as 
nothing. Striking genius was not Flaxman's greatness at any time, but rather 
the perfectness of fine feeling and thoroughly accomplished art. 

The first who noticed the boy, his earliest friend, and a very important 
one at that time, was a clergyman, a Mr. Mathew, who has recorded their 
first interview. "I went," he says, "to the shop of old Flaxman to have a 
figure repaired, and whilst I was standing there I heard a child cough 
behind the counter. I looked over, and there I saw a little boy seated on a 
small chair, with a large chair before him, on which lay a book he was 
reading. His fine eyes and beautiful forehead interested me, and I said, * What 
book is that ? ' He raised himself on his crutches, bowed, and said, 'It is a 
Latin book, and I am trying to learn it.' ' Ay, indeed,' I answered, ' you 
are a fine boy, but that is not the proper book ; I'll bring you a right one 
to-morrow.' I did as I promised, and the acquaintance thus casually begun 
ripened into one of the best friendships of my life." The picture of the lame 
child rising and bowing, is highly curious, and has a touch of prcmatiu-e age 
and formal manners, such as we are often surprised by in the diminutive and 
the deformed. " This child," says Cunningham, who knew Flaxmau to some 
extent before he died, " is the mental as well as bodily image of the man. All 
those who had the honour of knowing Flaxman will join with me in sayiuLi; 
that his extreme courtesy and submissive deference to others were natural and 
not assumed; as he was in his first interview with Mathew, so was he to 
mankind, when his name, like that of the hero of old romance, ' had A^'axcil 



JOHN FLAXMAN. 39" 



Wide.' " The solitary child labom-ed at his books and sketches incessantly, 
making small models in plaster of Paris, wax, and clay, and he must also have 
drawn diligently, which very few sculptors do, modelling being so much 
easier and more fascinating, otherwise in his later years we should not have 
had the greatest work of his manhood and mature powers, the series of illus- 
trations from the Greek poets. 

Such was the narrow routine of life up to the age of ten, when he was well 
and at the best; at other times he was entkely laid aside with feebleness and 
ill health, and always up to that age he could only move by the use of crutches. 
Now, however, the evils that beset him tied, a flush of health came upon him 
at once ; he grew strong, lively, and active ; the crutches were thrown aside never 
to be resumed ; and full of a new energy, and under the new experiences of walking 
out in the streets and green fields he longed to do something extraordinary and 
meet some wonderful adventm-e. And here there is a long story of his emulating 
Don Quixote, after having read that enchanting book. Armed with a little French 
sword he set out for adventures, but as this is not related in his own words it has 
none of the colour that makes such childish aspirations worth repeating, nor did 
he ever in after life show any similar disposition, but all through his long term 
of years kept an uneventful routine. 

jSTow, however, he went to school, and there does occur an incident related by 
himself to his confidential assistant for twenty years, Mr. Hinchliflf, and preserved 
by Mr. Teniswood. The school he went to was conducted by a tyrant of the 
old class, who treated him severely. " I was put to school under a master, of the 
peculiarities of whose disposition my parents were ignorant. The period, though 
short, Avas to me a most unhappy one, for he treated his scholars with cruel 
severity. I made no complaint at home, but bore his unmerited punishment 
without mui-muring. Having in no way deserved such treatment, his barbarity 
induced in me a resolution that, when older and stronger, I would punish him 



40 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



for the pain tie liad caused to others. Some few years after, one day when in 
my father's shop in the Strand, I recognised my former tyrant looking at some 
casts in the window. In an instant the recollection of his cruelties flashed across 
my mind, and in great agitation I rxished into the street to confront my enemy; 
the nearer sight of whom instantly disarmed me. The poor fellow was paralysed. 
Pity in place of any other feeling took possession of me, and turning back, it was 
some time before I recovered from the shock caused by the sight of his altered 
condition. This recollection is one that frequently recui's to me, but never with- 
out a sense of thankfulness at being spared the horrible reflection that must ever 
have haunted me, had I, not seeing his pitiable state, attempted to punish him 
as he so well deserved." Thus the single vigorous impulse of passion in his 
life, perhaps, ended in a lesson of forgiveness ! It is worthy of remark too that 
the earliest commission he had, and that a very juvenile one, was for drawings 
in chalk, prophetic of his future excellence in design. This came through Mr. 
Mathew, at whose home a friend saw Flaxman drawing Homeric sketches while 
Mrs. Mathew read the poet aloud, and gave him six subjects, exactly such as he 
afterwards would have selected for himself. These were, " The Blind ffidipus 
conducted by his Daughter, Antigone, to the Temple of the Fui'ies ; " " Diomede 
and Ulysses seizing Dolon as a Spy;" "The Lamentation of the Trojans over 
the Body of Hector;" "Alexander taking the Cup from Philip, his Physician;" 
"Alccstis taking leave of her Children, when about to die to preserve the Life of 
their Father;" and "Hercules releasing Alcestis from the Infernal Ecgions, and 
restoring her to her Husband." 

This took place before Flaxman had fixed his determination on following 
sculpture, which he did when his health was quite restored, and his school 
days over, and long after his mother was dead and a step-mother sitting in her 
place. His visits to Mr. Mathew's circle still continued, and this circle included 
some of the celebrities of the daj^, among the ladies at least, Mrs. Moutacue 



JOHN FLAXMAN. 41 



Mrs. Chapone, and Mrs. Barbauld. At this house he was for many years a 
welcome visitor, and here he was encouraged ia studying the dead languages, 
" so necessary to him in his profession," says one of his biographers. " That he 
ever attained eminent scholarship no one has yet pretended ; that he knew something 
of the Greek bards in the origiaal is, however, certain ; and it is probable that 
he helped his deficiencies out, as Pope is said to have done, by the common 
translations. His education was desultory, he attended no college, but mastered 
what he wanted by some of those ready methods which form part of the iaspirations 
of genius." 

Such is the first period of the career of our hero, and the second is more 
like that of others, attending the Eoyal Academy, gaining the prizes, such 
as they are at the Society of Arts, and forming congenial friendshi];)s, among 
whom there were two that must have been of the greatest importance to him ; 
these were Blake and Stothard, both modest and peculiar men. Blake was indeed 
such an intolerant, or at least settled, mystic that any one living on friendly terms 
must have harmonised with him to some extent, and imited with him, at all 
events, ia his pious view of life and resolute poverty. Stothard, on the other 
hand, was much nearer Flaxman in his art, and also in his personal character; 
yet we are told that it was with Blake in particular he loved to dream and sketch, 
and give form and sometimes colour to the fancies in which they both sympathised. 
However that may be, Blake was not a painter in the same sense that Stothard 
was, his eff*orts were very desultory, and only in a few cases successful, whereas 
Stothard was then, and became still more afterwards, an able colourist. Flaxman's 
painting must have been much more accomplished than we are prepared to expect, 
since it appears a picture of his, " (Edipus and Antigone," turned up in an 
auction-room many years after, and was sold for a Belisarius by Domenichino ! 
Painters have frequently a wide range of practice, and very many of them model, 
but few indeed arc the sculptors who can tiu^n to the brush or even the crayon. 



42 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



When Wilkie was in Eome, he took it into Lis head that he saw reason to think 
the ancient sculptors had also been painters ; but such it seems to us was a mere 
conjecture to account for the perfectness he saw in their work. " It seems to 
mc," he says, in a letter quoted in the "Lives of British Painters," &c., "as if the 
artists of old first began to learn to paint and then to work in marble. There 
is such an artist-like freedom in the working of the material, that it reminds 
me of what we call surface in a picture, and such a perfect knowledge of the 
effect of light and shadow on that surface, that the hard stone is made to indicate 
sharpness and softness with as much ease as we see it done in a picture by 
Correggio. Sculpture and painting seem much less allied now than in the time 
of the Greeks, when statues and bas-reliefs are painted, or in party-coloured 
marble, and when pictui'es were coloured sculptures in everything but the flat 
surface." This is well observed, and we may have something to say of coloured 
sculpture when wc come to Gibson, but it would rather seem to us that the 
perfect finish in the modelling of the surface which produces the exact texture of 
flesh would suppose that no supplementary paint would be either necessary or 
allowable. 

Since the lives of both Flaxman and Blake have been wi-itten, and their 
friendship recorded pleasantly by their biographers, certain satirical couplets and 
biting epigrams have been discovered, wherein the painter criticises the sculptor 
in no pleasant terms. His quarrel with Stothard had a distinct reason, that painter 
having taken his subject of the " Canterbury Pilgrims," and made a great success, 
while Blake's wild and rude treatment prevented his engraving of the Pilgrims 
being so. But we caimot conjecture in what Flaxman had oftendcd. 

If our sculptor began early, especially to draw, he does not appear at an early 
jjcriod of life as practising his profession in a lucrative way, or, indeed, to have 
made any money at all except in his father's service, till wc approach his twenty- 
eighth year, when the mnch-talked-of connection with Wedgwood bca;an. The 



JOHN FLAXMAN. 43 



first recorded impression made by the sculptor on the potter, or rather on his 
partner, may now be seen in Miss Meteyard's book, and savours intensely of a 
manufacturer's impertinence ; and in all accounts of their intercourse and connection 
we are conscious of a false and offensive position held by the manufacturer and 
improver of earthenware towards a man he was scarcely entitled to associate with. 
This absurd tone is maintained by writers who have but lately employed themselves 
in the celebration of Wedgwood — a tone that seems ludicrous when we feel all the 
time that Flaxman would never have had a penny of the potter's money if it had 
not been for the potter's manifest advantage. Mr. Llewellynn Jewitt, in his "Life 
of Josiah Wedgwood," says : — " Somewhat before this period, 1779 — but I cannot 
speak with certainty of the year — Wedgwood and Bentley engaged the services of 
John Flaxman, then a young and unknown man; and to their fostering care — 
to no inconsiderable extent — did the great sculptor owe his name and his 
imperishable fame. It was the employment he received from Wedgwood which 
for years 'kept the wolf from the door,' and enabled him to live while he worked 
his way up in art. It was this employment which enabled him to earn money to 
take a home for himself, and to plant in it that blessing and joy of his life, his 
wife, Ann Denman ; and which also helped him on to lay by money to visit Eome, 
and study the works of the great masters. It would be highly interesting to 
compile a list of all the groups and medallions and bas-reliefs of one kind or other 
which Flaxman produced for Wedgwood. A complete list of this kind, however, 
there is little hope of getting together. So far as may be done I purpose doing 
at a futui-e time. For the present I shall content myself with the pleasure of 
giving my readers copies of some of Flaxman's original bills for models and draw- 
ing's which will be of no inconsiderable service to collectors of Wedgwood ware." 

The present writer is far from undervaluing the services of Wedgwood in 
improving the important art and industry of earthenware manufacture, on the 
contrary, he has done what he could to celebrate the same pictorially ; but at the 



4+ THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



same time he must protest against this consequential MI-bottom-Avig aii- of 
patronage applied to one of the most modest and most gifted of our artists, nor 
can he discover any "fostering care," nor see how Flaxman owes his name and 
fame to his modelling at small pay for the Staffordshire fui-naces. The proposition 
is altogether absurd ; all the world understands he honoured the manufacturer and 
his wares by touching them. Here is some evidence Mr. Jewitt would say of 
the disinterested "fostering care." The artist has to meet the trader on his own 
grounds, and so writes out his invoice. 

Mr. Wedgwood to J. Flaxman. 



1782. 


& s. d. 


April 28. 


Moulding a Turin 18 


1783. 


Moulding a bust of Mr. and Mrs. Siddons . . . . 1 11 6 


Sept. 6. 


A cast of a fragment of Phidias 10 6 




8 




Received in full by 




John Flaxman. 



This insignificant assistance is not much. Mr. Jewitt certainly gives another 
bill of greater importance, comprehending indeed a statement of account from 
July loth, 1781, the year after his marriage, down to August 10th, 1787, 
the time when he and his wife set off to Eome to studj^ the antique 
originals, and to prove to Eeynolds, who had said that his marriage would 
ruin him as an artist, that he was but beginning a career as eminent as his 
own. The sum of the entire bill, no doubt nearly the whole of the money 
he ever received from WedgAvood, is £188 \s. 2(/., paid by instalments and 
£6 lis. 9rf. in goods, dishes no doubt, when he was fiu-nishing at his marriao'c. 
The improvement of ware is one thing, and the art applied to it another • the 
ability on Wedgwood's part iu this transaction was to find out the sculptor and to 
get him to model these things, it does him honour. Mr. Jewitt goes on to analvse 
the bill and its statements, and to congratulate " the frugal couple " on "'ottin!;' 



JOHN FLAXMAN. 



4S 



so much money. The frugal couple, be it remembered, were about to break up 
their establishment and to travel together across Europe, for a residence of two 
years in Rome. But he does not observe that a great part of the bill was 
for two marble chimney-pieces, with masonry and so forth, expenditure evidently 
on Flaxman's part without gain, or with a mere per centage, things imdertaken 
apparently out of good nature, without any possible pleasure, except obliging 
his country correspondent. Imagine, too, "Wedgwood, or any other man, employing 
Flaxmau to grind the edges of snuff-boxes ! 

Having made the strictures on Mr. Jewitt's way of putting the matter of 
the eomiection between our hero and his employer, which after all is only, 
most probably, an author making the most of his subject, forgetting that 
the world at large thinks the " obscure " sculptor who afterwards designed the 
Hesiod and modelled the Acts of Mercy, and the petitions of the Lord's 
Praj^cr, was the one conferring the honour, we must quote from his admirable 
and valuable "Life of Wedgwood" the entire bill referred to. Doing so will 
show how hard it must have been to live on such payments, and even to ventvu'e 
on marriage, and to save money to travel with besides. 



1783. 
.July 11. 



Oct. 12. 

,, 30. 
Dec. 13. 

„ 18. 

1784. 
Jan. 24. 
Feb. 3. 



Mr. Wedgwood to -J. Flaxman, Jun. 

Two drawings of Crests, an owl and a griffin's head 
A portrait of Mr. Hersohel .... 

,, Dr. Buclian .... 

,, an Officer from a print, for a ring . 

A drawing of a Crest, cap of liberty, and a fiame 
A figure of a Fool for chess .... 
A drawing of the Shield, crest, and arms of Sir N. Nugent 
Grinding the edges of six snuff-boxes for the Spanish 
Ambassador ...... 

A model in wax of Captain Cook 
,, ,, Dr. Johnson 

A print of the Doctor for assistance in the model 





£ 


s. 


(}. 







3 







2 


2 







2 


2 







2 


12 


6 







1 







1 


.5 





ugent. 





2 


6 



1.5 

2 2 

2 2 

2 G 



Jf 



46 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



1784. 
Mar. 21. 



Deo. 31. 

„ 12. 

Jan. 14. 
Mar. 8. 



April 29. 
July 23. 

Aue. 8. 



Nov. 28. 
Dec. 
Dec. 18. 



A bas-relief of Boys in wax .... 
A portrait of C. Jenkinson, Esq. 
Two drawings for the Manufacturers' Arms 
A third for the Manufacturers' Arms 

Three days employed in drawing bas-relief Vases, Chess- 
men, &c. ....... 

A bas-relief in wax of Veturia and Volumnia entreating 
Coriolanus ...... 

A portrait of Governor Hastings 

A drawing of Chessmen ..... 
An outline for a Lamp and Stand 
Cutting the curved sides of two ornamental friezes parallel, 
three days and a half .... 

A drawing of a Chimney-piece .... 

A ditto from that in Mr. Wedgwood's show-room, and 
several mouldings drawn at large 

A mason's time taking down a Chimney-piece . 
A labourer at ditto ...... 

A drawing of an Arm and Olive Branch 

A model of the King of Sweden 

Mr. and Mrs. Meerman's portraits . 

Four patterns for steel frogs . . .- . 



£ s. d. 

11 6 

2 2 
15 
5 

3 3 



9 


9 





3 


3 





6 


6 








10 


6 





9 


7- 





10 


6 


1 


1 








2 








1 


3 





2 





2 


2 





5 


5 








10 






1787. 
Jan. 10. A model of Peace preventing Mars from bursting the door 

of Janus's Temple . . . . . . . 15 15 

A packing-case . . . . . . . .010 

Drawing of an Oak Branch for the border of a plate . .030 

Mar. 26. A model of Mercury uniting the hands of England and 

France 13 13 

A packing-case . . . . . . . .016 

June 1. A model of the Queen of Portugal . . . . .830 

June 11. A marble Chimney-piece containing 5 ft. 11 ins. at 

&1 18.S. per foot . . . . . . .114 

Masonry and polishing . . . . . .18 

Carving GOO 



JOHN FLAXMAN. 



1787. 

June 11. A marble CHmney-piece containing .5 ft. 3 ins. 
Masonry and polishing . 
Twenty-four tinned cramps . 
Seven packing-cases, 7s. M., Is. lid. 
5s. 6d., 7s. 6d., 8s. Id. . 
Nails ..... 
Packing three days . 
Cart to the Inn 
Toll, porter, and booking . 
Taking down a Chimney-piece . 
Cutting Tiles .... 
Cases for the Chimney-piece 

Aug. 10. A bas-relief of Hercules in the Hesperian Garden 

Creditor 







£ 


s. d. 


ins. 




9 


19 6 






21 


4 









12 


7s. 2(i. 


6s. 9d. 










2 


8 5 









2 10 









10 6 









6 









1 9 









5 3 









5 









19 6i 


arden 




23 






Eeceived on account of this Bill :- 



1785. 
March 22 . 
August 10 

1787. 
July 10 . 
August 10 



By amount of goods 



£188 4 2 
116 11 9 

£71 14 5 



£ s. d. 

. 25 

. 25 

. 50 

. 10 

. 6 11 9 

£116 11 9 





Herschel {inentioned above). 



Dr. Bt4chan [mentioned above). 



48 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



Tlicse medallions are of extraordinary finish, requiring the greatest care and 
no small expenditure of time; and the prices, considering the difference of the 
value of money from the date of the erection of the Beanchamp monument at 
Warwick, particularly mentioned already, when William Austen, " Citizen and 
founder of London," receiyed IS.. 4J. each for his bronze statuettes, the metal 




Mrs. Flaxiiiivi. 



being separately paid for, it must be owned were quite as small— perhaps 
reasonably so, Wedgwood's object being necessarily to make money by the hand 
(if Flaxman. 

No doul)t marriage to a young artist Avithout any other dependence than siu'li 
as this is a dangerous step. Sir Jusluia Reynolds was pretty nearly riglit in a 
o'cneral way, but the lady Flaxman married was his great prize in life — an amiable. 



JOHN FLAXMAN. 49 



patient, happy -hearted, silent, and intelligent wife till nearly the close of his long 
and laborions life. When he parted from Eeynolds he went home, sat down by 
his wife, took her hand, and said with a smile, " I am ruined for an artist." — 
"John," said she, "how has this happened, and who has done it?"— "It 
happened," replied he, " in the church, and Ann Denman has done it. I met 
Sir Joshua Eejiiolds now, and he said marriage has ruined me in my profession. 
And, Ann," added he, " I have long thought that I could rise to distinction in 
art without studying in Italy, but these words of Eejniokls's have determined me. 
I shall go to Eome as soon as my affairs are fit to be left, and to show him that 
wedlock is for a man's good rather than for his harm, you shall accompany me. 
If I remain here I shall be accused of ignorance concerning those noble works 
of art which are to the sight of a sculptor what learning is to a man of letters, 
and you will lie under the charge of detaining me;" and in this determination 
Mrs. Plaxman heartily concurred. One lucky circumstance that helped to defeat 
Eeynolds's prophecy was that Ann had no childi-en. A woman of her nature 
devotes herself to her little ones ; the nest and the callow brood are her world, 
and the thatching of that nest and sitting in it, or fluttering about it with food, 
is her only care ; but without children the husband is all in all. From that day 
they began to prepare secretly for their journey, but five years elapsed before he 
had, by constant application and diligence in taking up any remunerative labour, 
accumulated the necessary means for the journey to Eome, very different then from 
what it is now, when one railway after another carries the tourist in a few days 
across kingdoms and thi'ough the Alps.* At the time of his marriage, in 1782, 
he was twenty-seven ; when he left for Eome, thirty -two ; and when he returned — 
and one may say began life here as one of our London artists — he was very close 
on forty. 

* I may say, once for all, the facts of this notice of Plaxman and some of the inferences are adopted 
from Cunningham's short "Life." They are all, however, in various other books. 



50 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



This step of leaving home, and making himself acquainted with all the Itahan 
galleries of the antique, was a very judicious one. The exact result on his art 
it is difficult to calculate, but one good work could never have been accomplished 
otherwise, and that was his lectureship to the students at the Academy, wliich 
has resulted in a book taking its place worthily beside the lectures of Ee}Tiolds 
and Fuseli, both of whom were specially endowed, the one with learning and 
force of character, the other with experience, penetration, and knowledge. But 
before following him there, we must quote an anonymous writer's description 
of his home after marriage. " I remember him well, so do I his wife, and also 
liis little home in Wardour Street (27 was the number, if any of our readers 
would like to look up at the windows in that street of imitation carved furniture). 
All was neat — nay, elegant ; the figures from which he studied were the finest 
antiques (casts, of course) ; the natm-e which he copied was the faii-est that 
could be had, and all his studio was propriety and order. But what struck me 
most was the air of devout quiet which reigned everywhere. The models which 
he made, and the designs which he drew, were not more serene than he was 
liimself; and his Avife had that meek composure of manner which he so much 
loved in art. Yet better than all was the devout feeling of this singular man : 
there was no ostentatious display of piety ; nay, he Avas in some sort a lover of 
mirth and sociality ; but he was a reader of the Bible and a worshipper of 
sincerity ; and if ever Purity visited the earth, she resided with John Flaxman." 

One of the few monumental sculptures confided to him before he gave up his 
Wardour Street home Avas that to Collins, the poet, engraved in the " Preliminary 
]^]s.say " in this book (p. 12). It represents Collins in a Avay congenial to Flaxman — 
reading the Bible — Avhicli Johnson, in his " Lives of the Poets," reports Collins 
told him was his only book. His lyre and manuscripts lie as throAvn aside for 
\\w, absorbing study of the sacred volume. The narroAV pediment aboAC is filled 
with a group which has been called " Cupid and Psyche," but in Flaxman's 



JOHN FLAXMAN. 51 



mind may have been an angel consoling the soul. This is very beantiful, ami 
has been engraved in this volume at the beginning of the article headed " Bacon." 

Once in Eome, he found himself, as so many have done, at an endless feast. 
In the Capitol and the Vatican at that period the marbles were very much the 
same as now, the great harvest for the explorer having degenerated into outlying 
gleanings before then, and the Museo Pio- Clementine, which our Scottish artist, 
Gavin Hamilton, so largely contributed to form, was complete.* But the most 
classic and most pure of all our sculptors, strange to say, seemed to have been 
struck more by the modern Italian works. It may have been he was less prepared 
for these ; all the principal antiques being known to him in the miniatm-e figures 
in his father's shop and elsewhere — although at that time the British Museum did 
not exist as it does now, showing so many stages of the history of Greek art, and 
the highest masterpieces of the age of perfection. From Niccolo Pisano down to 
Bernini there is in Italy a continual movement and development, and the works 
exemplifying the changes can only be known through the originals. He has 
given us many of his impressions in his lectures, and must have been much 
impressed by the greatness of the monumental art, and by the bronze relievos in 
Florence and Pisa, and also by the earthenware of Delia Robbia, rather juore 
remarkable than the plates and dishes of Staffordshire, even though commissioned 
by the Empress of Eussia, and painted with landscapes of Petersburg and the 
"VYinter-Palace. The relievos decorating the sarcophagi were more than all 
productive of interest and improvement to him. These, he says, present " endless 
compositions from the great poets of antiquity — Homer, Hesiod, iEschylus, 
Euripides, and Sophocles — the systems of ancient philosophy, with the mysteries, 



* It must be acknowledged that the Popes do not hide their lights under bushels, as far as 
ostentatious inscriptions on every object found or reared in their dift'erent reigns go. It seems as if 
every fragment of the antique placed in a museum, as well as everything built, altered, or added to, 
in Rome, was a free gift condescendingly bestowed on a piablic without any claims. 



5 2 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



initiations, and mytliology. By carefully studying these, the young sculptor will 
accustom himself to a noble habit of thinliing, and consequently choose whatever 
is beautiful, elegant, and grand ; rejecting all that is mean and vulgar : by 
thus imbibing an electric spark of the poetic fire, he will attain the power of 
employing the beauty and grace of ancient poetry and genius in the service of the 
establishments and morals of our OAvn time and country." 

Happily for the world he received at that very time commissions from three 
different persons, which gave him opportunities of showing how fur the study 
of these works had amalgamated with his own powers, and how far the repro- 
duction of the essential qualities of Greek art in the form of modern poetic 
simplicity, and in a systematic series of illustrative designs, could be attained 
by him. Any man with gifts equal to his could be in no danger of imitating, 
much less of adapting particular figures or designs, nor do we remember a single 
one of his designs from Homer or Hesiod having been suggested by early works; 
those from ^Eschylus are still further from antique authority, and the Dante 
designs have a singular sentiment of mysticism united to the sculpturesque 
form he could not be without. The Iliad contains thirty - nine illustrations, the 
Odyssey thirty-four, Hesiod's Works and Days thirty-seven, ^Eschylus not so 
many, but the three parts of Dante together a hundred and nine. Each of 
these designs, paid at a guinea, was an evening's work, and no doubt the old 
menage was re-established in Eome, and after museum study in the day, Flaxman 
and his wife found the stove and the lamp in the Piazza di Spagna, and afterwards 
in the Via Felice, where he was greatly resorted to, very much the same as in 
Wardour Street. For, after all, how little are the surroundings compared to 
the subjective reality, ourselves and our view outwards ! Emerson has said 
something to this effect Avonderfully well: — "When I came to Pv-omc I foimd 
that genius pierced directly to the simple and true ; that it was familiar and 
sincere, that it was the old eternal fact I had met already in so many forms 



JOHN FLAXMAN. 53 



unto which I lived ; that it was the plain you and me I knew so well — had left 
at home in so many conversations. I had the same experience already in a 
church at Naples. There I saw that nothing was changed with me, but the 
place, and said to myself— ' Thou foolish child, hast thou come out hither, over 
four- thousand miles of salt water, to find that which was perfect to thee there at 
home?' — that fact I saw agaia in the Academia at Naples, in the chambers of 
seulptiu-e, and yet again when I came to Eome, and the paintings of Eaphael, 
Angelo, Sacchi, Titian, and Leonardo da Vinci. ' What ! old mole, workest 
thou in the earth so fast ? ' It had travelled by my side : that which I fancied 
I had left at Boston was here in the Yatican, and again at Milan, and at Paris." 

Of all these illustrative sets of designs, those for Hesiod appear to us the 
finest : they have an early character, dealing with the ideas of the ages of archaic 
sculpture, and this, requiring exceeding simplicity and order iu the manner and 
action of the figures, suited Flaxman admirably. It must be always kept in 
mind that his genius was for beauty exclusively, he had little call to the heroic, 
and he did no violence to himself in endeavouring after it, nor was his di'awing 
so vigorous as to deal successfully with the nude male figure in violent action. 
In this series also are consecutive sets which lend value to each other, that 
relating to Pandora especially is absolutely perfect, and the plates of the Hesiod 
drawings having had the good fortune to be engraved (one or two excepted) by 
Blake ; the English edition is more complete in the rendering than any other. 
"Pandora gifted by Minerva and Hermes," "Attired by Persuasion and the 
Graces;" " Shown to the Gods;" "Brought to Earth;" " Presented to Einmetheus;" 
and lastly " Opening the Vase," are all exquisitely fine. The repute and estimation 
of these works is much greater abroad than at home, where we believe their 
publication was not a great success. But in France, from the time of theii- 
first appearance to the present, they have been familiar to every student, and we 
remember seeing in the Luxemboui'g many years ago a life-size picture repeated 

P 



54 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



from the "Pandora brought to Earth," which had been honourably placed there, 
although the design was but a copy. In the last of these designs, " Pandora 
opening the Vase," nothing can surpass the beauty of the nymph as an embody- 
ment of innocence and uufrightened wonder. 

Of the Dante di-awings a greater difference of opinion must always exist, 
and yet for comprehensive understanding of the poet, and sculpturesque treatment 
of subjects that will not bear formalising by any art, they are very complete. 
Blake began a series, which, apart from his limited power of drawing and his 
conventional typical way of representing old sages or young men or maids, 
promised to be the most truly imaginative and adequate to the subject. Dore's, 
we all know, are fi'om the romantic point of view, and can scarcely be compared 
to any other. 

At the same time these were in progress, Flaxman, who seemed to have an 
impatience with fragments, even those of the Elgin marbles, set himself a task 
which was siu-e to disappoint himself and every one. This was the completion 
of the famous torso of Hercules, called l)y 'the contemporaries of the author's 
student years, 2^ar excellence, " The Torso," and carefully drawn by them, all 
mutilated as it is. This mere fragment has excited an adniii-ation beyond any 
other fragment, but for that very reason its restoration is the more hopeless, 
and as the peculiarity of it is muscular strength, prodigious though easy, it 
was not the best fitted for Flaxman's powers. He not only completed the 
Hercules, but he added an Omphalc to form a group. This female adjunct he 
thought fit to contrast with the demi-god, and, according to all accounts, made 
her like a plaything in comparison, and when the idlers and the connoisseurs 
went to see the finished restoration there was no contentment expressed. This 
huge mass he brought home, however, and it was only shortly before his death 
that he came to the resolution — wise or not who can say? — of causing it to be 
destroyed. 



JOHN FLAXMAN. 55 



During ttiose h.appy years, Eomc, far away as it seemed from the vortex of 
things, began to feel uneasily that the great Eevolution uncoiling itself in Paris 
was not to leave it long in peace. He had been seven years there, and was 
preparing to leave. " A night or two before my departure from Eome," he 
afterwards told, " the ambassador of the French proudly showed us at an evening 
party a medal of Bonaparte. ' There,' said he, ' is the hero who is to shake 
the monarchies of the earth, and raise the glory of the republic' I looked at 
the head and said at once, ' This Bonaparte of yoiurs is the very image of Augustus 
Caesar.' ' Image of a tyi'ant ! ' exclaimed the Frenchman, ' no, indeed, I tell 
you he is another sort of a man ; he is a young enthusiastic hero, and dreams of 
nothing but liberty and equality ! ' " This dislike to Napoleon continued with 
Flaxman, and extended to all the movers in the Eevolution and the Empire. At 
the time of the peace of Amiens he went to Paris, but refused the honours of 
an introduction to the lover of liberty and equality, now developing into the 
Caesar. 

At the time when Flaxman returned to England and settled for the rest of his 
life at 7, Buckingham Street, Fitzroy Square, Banks was at his best, and he 
remains as the best artist of the period, a man with earnest poetic aspirations, but 
moderate ability. A true artist, however, we ought to own him, and one who 
was an exception to all the others then living, and we had almost said to sculptors 
in general, having generous feelings to his brethren, and no jealousy. Flaxman 
carried home a commission to execute the important monument to the Earl of 
Mansfield, most probably indeed returned homo to do it. Wisdom is on one side. 
Justice on the other, and the judge sits aloft in the centre calm, simple, severe, 
and solitary. On seeing this brought to a conclusion Banks said honestly, " This 
little man cuts us all out ! " and ever after there was the most friendly feeling 
existing between them, till Banks's death about nine years later. 

Bacon was near his end. With him we have squared accounts in the previous 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



pages, and perhaps tlie reader does not care to revive the acquaintance with that 
vigorous but restricted intellect. 

Nollekens has scarcely yet been mentioned : a notable figure in his way, and 
one of the men fui-nishing, at the time of his death, 1823, nearly ninety years of 
age, one of the largest crops of anecdotes, set afloat principally by disappointed 
fortune-hunters. What the old Bernini school, still practised in London, was like, 
the statue of Joshua Ward, by Carlini, in the stau'case of the Society of Arts 
Adelphi, will show. NoUekens stood between the time when the foreigner held 
the field in derision of native talent, an Antwerpcr by parentage. Englishman by 
being born in Dean Street, Soho, and apprenticed to Scheemakers, whom we may 
hesitate to call an artist, and the day when Flaxman and Chantrey had put all 
such adventurers down, and Westmacott, Gibson, and others were putting up 
green leaves. In his early time this Society of Arts appears as an efiicient patron 
of sculpture, and in case of ISToUekens a very efficient one indeed, giving him, 
a quite friendless youth as it seems, his father dead and his mother gone to Wales 
with a new husband, fifteen, thirtj^, ten, and fifty guineas in premiums. There 
is something touching in the poverty, ungainliness, and timidity, described as 
characterising NoUekens's youth, subjecting him to insults and practical jokes, 
contrasting curiously with the flattery, servility, and watchfulness of the next 
generation round his invalid chair and his death-bed. With all his knowledge of 
the world he must have held mankind in contempt ; womankind he seems not 
to have found much better. Ilis marriage, indeed, was a success, as his wife 
harmonised with him in many ways, although worse in temper, quite as penurious, 
and nearly as ignorant as himself; but his wife's sister used to note down all 
his faults, and insisted on teaching him at least to spell correctly Avords of one 
syllable. One of these friendly expectants, who was left with only a huntb-ed 
poimds as an executor after having been led to expect fifty thousand, revenged 
liimself by writing his life, and this life of Nollekens by Thomas Smith is an 



JOHN FLAX Jf AN. S7 



amusing book indeed, tlie sculptor did so much and saw so many people, the 
narrative being seasoned by the animus of the narrator. 

Throughout his long life, beginning with the manufacture or piecing-up of 
antiques on his first arrival in Eome, whither he went at an early age, he was 
careful, long-suffering, and money-making, to effect which he constructed his 
statues and groups of many pieces, so cunningly joined together that they passed 
as monoliths ; the very large masses of perfect marble being very expensive. 
This art he had learned in Eome in his early days, when a trade in antiques, 
sometimes newly made and sometimes pieced together, employed the needy and 
unprincipled. He was also blunt and satirical, occasionally the latter without 
knowing it, as when he asked the "lady of rank" to lower her handkerchief, the 
piece of dress at that time covering the throat and breast. This he did iu such 
a way as to induce her to answer, " I am sure. Sir, you must know the human 
form too well to make such examination necessary;" when he muttered loudly 
to himself, "True, true, it matters little, most likely; no woman's bosom is very 
much worth looking at after eighteen." Yet this artist became the leading 
sculptor, partly from the extraordinary vigour and peculiar faithfulness of his 
busts,- partly from his cunniug and inoffensiveness iu the serious business of life. 
His works are almost numberless. Garrick, Sterne, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Burney, 
Mr. Townlcy, George III., and the Prince of Wales, and scores of the nobility, 
artists, soldiers, and others, sat to him. Pitt he modelled from the posthumous 
mask, Pox from life, and made both in hundreds for their partizans ; party -feeling 
running then so high we have now no parallel to it. He also did the monu- 
mental statue of Pitt. 

His statues and groups are about twenty in number, his monuments nearly 
seventy, and among them the monument to Mrs. Howard, of Corby, near Carlisle, 
may be pointed out as one of the most beautiful and touching of the semi-emble- 
matic vstylc of design. " Yeuus anointing herself" was his favourite work, although 

Q 



58 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



he did foiu' other figures of the fascinating goddess, some of them better in the 
ojiiuion of the rest of the world; these were "Venus chiding Cupid," "Yenus 
sitting," with her hands round her knees, as if thinking; "Venus taking off her 
Shoe," and another called the " Eockingham Venus." When the Elgin marbles 
came to be otfered to the nation, NoUekens gave one of the highest testimonies 
to their supreme excellence, and even before his death, while theix purchase was 
in suspense, spoke of giving the entire money for that piu'pose; but this was 
supposed mere boasting. 

This little sketch of NoUekens was necessary in any notice of oiu- deceased 
sculptors, although, as in the cases of Eoubiliac and others, we cannot produce 
an illustration of his works. Besides these tkree important men, when Flaxman 
returned to London, there were many other sculptors working, men who have 
gone out and left no trace, particularly Tiumerelli, a native of Belfast, the lion 
of a day, when George III. took him into favour, and whose portrait, in engravings, 
may still be seen with a half-life-size bust of the king in his hand, inscribed below, 
" P. Turnerelli, Esq., Sculptor to their Majesties and all the Eoyal Family." To 
retiu-n to Elaxman. 

The Mansfield monument was the forerunner of many others, and now began 
the period of successful annual accomplishment which has adorned many of our 
churches with commemorative sculptm-e, possessing a truly ennobling and tran- 
quillising character in harmony with the place and the Chi'istiau services. The 
important work in memory of the family of Sii- Francis Baring, in Micheldean 
(Ihurch, Hants, is nearly the most perfect in these respects; the sculptor used to 
say he found " the Christian religion to present personages and subjects no less 
favourable to painting and sculpture than the ancient classics," and the bas-reliefs 
on this monument go far to prove it. These embody various petitions in the 
Lord's Prayer— "Thy will be done," "Thy kingdom come," "Deliver us from 
evil;" wood-engravings of which will be found in this volume (pages 77, 88 100 



JOHN FLAXMAN. S9 



131). This assertion of Flaxman ouglit, no doubt, to receive the greatest respect, 
but it is not accurate enough in its expression. We in these days ought to 
sympathise with Bible history and Chiistian motifs much more than with a 
defunct mythology; but whenever art leaves poetry for morality, and fancy for 
faith, the artist ceases to be a magician ; he is dominated by the Church or the 
ideas themselves, and even in the hands of Plaxman there is a weak and lifeless 
character in the divapery that clothes the bodies of the blessed and allegorical 
personages, and in the haii- that covers their heads and shoulders. Perfect artistic 
freedom in the embodiment has never been attained. 

Not so fiaie as these was the bas-relief to Mary Lushington, Lewisham, Kent, 
but still very admirable, embodying one of the beatitudes from the Sermon on the 
Mount, " Blessed are they who mourn ; " and the groups, " Come thou blessed," and 
" Lead us not into temptation," and also the " Faith " and " Charity," on the 
memorial to the Countess Spencer, have the same sincerity and earnestness. His 
historical monuments have been among his least admired works ; nor does it seem 
possible to raise by any executive excellences such formal and hackneyed materials 
as he fell into the habit of using. Moreover, these were larger than the measiu^e 
of all his best works, and he was in the habit of modelling them half the size, and 
enlarging them in the marble, which magniiies defects ; and it is said he worked 
for months on the Earl Howe, after the figure was placed, getting it into better 
proportion. 

These works bring us down to the time of his "Michael and Satan," the group 
engraved in this book, certainly one of his leading works and greatest achievements. 
Also to the " Shield of Achilles," where he retm-ns to Homer and ancient art and 
life. The greatness of design, the richness of invention, prompted by the poetry of 
his original, — 

" An endless fountain of immortal drink 
Pouiing unto us from the heavens' brink," — 



5o 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



and tlie j^urity of tlie art in the drawing and modelling, make this one of the 
tiium2)hs of modern art. Qnartremere de Quincy and others have also embodied the 
poet's description of Vulcan's work, but Flaxman has made it his own. 

These labours were in progress when his wife died, and six years after his 
own time came. One day a stranger called with a book in his hand, a votive 
offering in its way from an Italian writer, who, impressed with the idea that the 
designer from Homer and Hesiod was deceased, had dedicated his book " Al Ombra 
di Flaxman;" but who, learniag his mistake after the publication, sent an apology 
with a copy of the work. Flaxman smiled at finding himself prematurely among 
the shades, but the mistake was not great as to time. This Avas on Saturday, 
the 2nd December, 1826, and five days after, on the 7th, he passed away without 
a struggle. Always modest, gentle, happy within a narrow circle, some one said 
of him, " I wish he would not bow so low to the lowly ; his civility oppresses." 
Every one who cares for the art of sculpture should go and study it in the Flaxman 
Gallery in the University College, Gower Street. 




F/a.xmaii's Tomb, in St. (JiUs-in-thc-FielJs. 




Monument to Miss Lushiiigfon, Lewisliam [Flaxnian'). 



SIR FRANCIS CHANTREY. 



THE TWO CHILDREN. 





SIR FRANCIS CHANTREY, 

HE name of Chantrey brings us down to a much later time tliau any other 
sculptor yet mentioned. True, his contemporaries are almost all gone, and 
the many illustrious men and women who sat to him have left their places 
to be filled by their sons ; but there is an unmistakable modern air about all his 
works that makes us feel as if they were done but yesterday, A great artist entirely 
without imagination, a sculptor without the pretension even to poetic feeling is 
a phenomenon ; and yet Sir Francis was a great artist, in his walk, although he 
was singularly deficient in the qualities that go to produce the highest embodiments 
of sculpture, which we take to be Avhat is called ideal. That aspiration after the 
perfect, which underlies religion, finds its bodily expression in sculpture; hence 
it is that the poetic in marble must be removed from direct imitation. Illustrations 
of Burns or Byron, for example, by figures of Tam O'Shanter and Souter Johnny, 
such as an ignorant section of the public ran after twenty years ago, or even 
" Hi"-hland Mary " or " Haidee," as we have seen them more ably embodied since. 



64 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



arc uuwortliy of the art, and only allo^^^ablc as ornaments. Cliantrey was too 
discriminating to attempt any snch realities when advanced in life, and even in 
his youth never had the impulse to try any invention whatever. 

Whether this entire absence of the most distinguishing attribute of the artist 
may exist with such perceptive and critical faculties as will enable theii" possessor 
to inform a portrait or bust with all that the face can show, say the face of Goethe 
or Coleridge, is a question which the works of Chantrcy would go far to settle 
in the ailrmative. It would seem tliat he could express in clay or marble what- 
ever bone and muscle can show of the mind within, and beino; himself nes-ative 
and without spjeculution, like the lens of the photographer, though an able master 
of modelling-tool and chisel, the result was a perfect representation without any 
foreign or superadded expression whatever. With all his limitations, the sculptor 
of the splendid monument of -Tames Watt, in Glasgow and in Westminster Abbey, 
must always be recognised as great. 

Francis Chantrey was born at Norton in Derbyshire, not far fi'om Sheffield, in 
1782, where his father lived by farming a very small patrimony. The life of our 
present subject does not present any incidents or adventures whatever after the 
period of boyhood. It is like that of Alicia's sister, "A blank, my lord," only 

he did not 

" Pine in thought 

And, with a green and yellow melancholj-, 
Sit still like Patience on a monument, 
Smiling at grief," 

but went on from one success to another, full of commissions paid at the highest 
price hitherto attained, till his figure became portly, and his face rubicvmd ; indeed, 
there is an anecdote of some one making a portrait of him by sticldng a great 
red wafer on the paper, and penning the human features upon it. 

It might be thought that no one would make a hero of this muscular sculptor, 
this healthy plain possessor of an inestimable talent, but so entirely Avithout 



SIR FRANCIS CHANTREY. 



"ideas" that lie did not know what they were; and yet Mr. G. Jones, who speaks 
of himself in his own book as "Mr. Jones, E.A.," and his friend, Mr. Thompson, 
for example, whom we never before heard of, as " Mr. Thompson the Academician," 
has written and published a book with that especial intention. True, Mr. Jones, 
E.A., is himself a similar man intellectiially, and is capable of saying, " It is 
probable that general effect in a work of art is so necessary that its absence cannot 
be satisfactory " ! so that he is C[uite happy in reporting that " it was not easj' to 
get Chantrey to speak of the collection of antiques in the Vatican, for, excepting 
general approbation of the ' Laocoon ' and the Apollo, little could be gained from 
him." However, at the Capitol, the sculptor opens his critical mind a little by 
saying, " The busts are numerous, and most of them very bad." Of Sir Francis' 
character, Mr. G. Jones considers the noblest features were " imdeviating sagacity " 
and " conduct ia life;" and of his works this writer reports, "His view of his own 
art was of so pure a character that it was of necessity very limited " ! 

It is only necessary to mention some of Chantrey's principal works to claim 
for him an imperishable place in our art-historj^ These were executed from 1812 — 
when Mr. Johns, of Hafod, engaged him, at Stothard's recommendation, to execute 
the monument to his daughter — down to 1841, when he died suddenly on the 25th 
November. His George III. in the Council Chamber in Guildhall followed ; but 
the leading examples of his art in London are the George lY. in Trafalgar Square, 
and the Duke of Wellington in front of the Eoyal Exchange : on the great stair- 
case, Windsor, is also a George IV., and another in Edinburgh, where there is 
a better statue of Pitt, and another of a Lord Melville, acknowledged by Mr. Jones 
to be rather heavy in. character. The James Watt has been mentioned ; at Liver- 
pool, Eoscoe, and Canning on the staircase of the Town Hall there, are successful 
works ; Dalton at Manchester also. Besides these, Bishop Heber, Dean Jackson, 
Sir J. Banks, Mr. Coutts, Grattan, Sir E. Peel, jSI'orthcote the painter, ought all 
to be mentioned. 

s 



66 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



Perhaps the reader, turning to the "Two Chiklren " engraved in this book, so 
lovely and tender in sentiment, may naturally feel indignant at our strictures on 
Chantrey's artistic character. But he will not remain so when he looks into 
Mrs. Bray's " Life of Stothard," and iinds the original sketch engraved as her 
father's design. Chantrey did not invent the grouj), but he certainly improved it 
in elegance, at the loss of much juvenile simplicity in the action. There is a well- 
designed monumental figure of Piesignation by him, and a very engaging statue of 
a child embracing a dove, and other similar works of value ; but when we speak 
with admiration of Chantrey, we think of his numerous busts. When George lY. 
sat to our sculptor his price was two liuncbed pounds, the munificent prince ordered 
him to charge three hundred. 




Lin\' pursiiiiv^ iht' Soul <^Gibson). 




TJie Englis]/ Cemetery^ Ro 



R. J. WYATT. 



PENELOPE. 



■■•w 




J 



PENELOPE. 




R, J, WYATT, 



^^I^^HE cemetery at Eome, so often described, and sketched, — containing as it 

fes^ ^^ does the tomb of Keats, commemorated by an upright headstone with 

a lyre, and the sad epitaph; and that of Shelley, a great flat stone, 

imder which lie the cofl^ered ashes from the pp'e that consumed his body on the 

bay of Spezia, — is the last resting-place of "Wyatt. Its natural beauty — overlooked 

by the pyramid of Cains Cestius, the Eomans in the age of Augustus being 

eclectic, like us in the nineteenth century, and so adopting any architectural 

monument they fancied — has a grace in itself, and its associations make it dear 

to all Englishmen. Besides the two poets, we remember only one other man 

of mark there buried with whom the arts had much sympathy — Bell the anatomist, 

. and author of the "Anatomy of Expression," lying near Eeats. Artists we do not 

remember to have observed recorded there ; they come as students, and return 

home to die, except when suddenly cut off like "Wyatt, or unwilling to leave 

the dearly loved city. "It is a quiet and sheltered nook," says Samuel Eogers, 

T 



70 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



" covered in the winter with violets ; and the pyramid that overshadows it 
gives it a classical and singularly solemn air. You feel an interest, a sympathy 
you were not prepared for. Tou are yourself in a foreign land, and they are, 
for the most part, your countrymen. They call upon you in your mother-tongue 
— in English — in words unknown to a native, known only to yourselves : and the 
tomb of Cestius, that old majestic pile, has this also in common with them — it is 
itself a stranger among strangers ; it has stood there till the language round 
about it has changed, and the shepherd, bom at its foot, can read its inscrip- 
tion no longer." 

Our school is by no means weak in Poetic Sculpture, that is to say, the men 
who with us embrace the art as a profession, do so enthusiastically and with lofty 
aims, and nearly all of them try for the highest honom-s. The only man of all we 
shall have to separately mention who had no poetry of any description, and 
ignored it, we have just spoken of. He, indeed, attained the highest honom^s ; 
we like the character that has no pretension, about whose person and works there 
is no affectation, and if he does well what he undertakes we forgive him beiag • 
common-place, and living for the main chance : it is what the most of us do. 
But whatever place a sculptor of that limitation may take while living, by 
force of character, affectionate remembrance — except fi-om such a singular person 
as Mr. G. Jones, E.A. — is not his due. Wyatt, on the other hand, unobtrusive, 
retiring, and studious, the private friend of Canova (Canova comes into our 
narrative again and again, the reader will observe, but never the stronger northern 
Thorwaldsen), and of his fellow-pupil in that master's studio, Gibson, is still 
spoken of with love and regret. 

Wyatt was a Londoner, born in " stony-hearted " Oxford Street, in 1795, and 
Eossi — who was for a time largely employed in national monumental works voted 
by Parliament, receiving such valuable honom-s as oui* Koyal Academy has to 
give — was his first master in the art. After this pupilage he executed several 



R. J. WYATT. 71 



monumental commissions. But Ms ti'ue beginning was not then, but later, when 
Sir Thomas Lawrence introduced him to Canova, on that master visiting London. 
The great Italian found much iaterest m Wyatt's doings, and offered him the 
entree into his studio in Eome. He accordingly proceeded thither in 1821, spent 
some time under Bozio in Paris, and on arriving in Eome began the friendly 
connection with the master which lasted tiU his death. 

The industry of "Wyatt was prodigious. In summer, long before five in the 
morniag, — the Eomans are preposterously early people, — he was to be seen at 
the Cafe Greco taking his coffee, and breakfasting on the little hard rolls ; and 
in winter, long before daylight, he was to be seen at the same place, reading 
his Galignani by the light of a taper which he always carried with him for 
that purpose. At daylight he was in his studio, and not only thus early, but 
he also remained at work sometimes until midnight. I find one biographer say, 
" It was only by such exertion that he could have possibly produced such a 
number of exquisite works, many of which are equal to those of antiquity." 
He was strong and never felt fatigue, but a few years before he died he broke 
one of his legs in a quite accidental way, whicli made a difference in his 
powers of endurance, as well as made him move with awkwardness. 

In 1841 he visited London, when the Queen commissioned him for the 
"Penelope," here engraved — a noble work of high feeling and poetic accomplish- 
ment. Another of his best works, " The Huntress," or more properly, " A Nymph 
of Diana taking a Thorn from the Foot of her Hound," is also in the possession of 
the Queen. His " luo and Infant Bacchus " is another evidence of his power. His 
" Glycera," with which the writer is unacquainted, has been said to be a very 
perfect creation. 

To a man of his nature and habits the convulsions of the revolutionary year were 
simply a nuisance. // Pcqm Re might foster the Jesuits and reign any way he 
could, provided he did not interfere with him. Only the enthusiastic Wyatt was 



72 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



not consulted, and tlie Pope had to leave the city to the demonstrative Triumvirate, 
to be brought back by the ill-fated French soldiers imder Louis ISTapoleon. 

During these operations, -ff-hile the French were besieging Eome, he had a 
narrow escape: — "I was awakened," he writes, "an hour after midnight by the 
roar of cannon, explosion of sheUs, and crashing of windows and tiles. I expected 
there would probably be an attack at the Popolo, as the French, after gaining 
possession of Ponte MoUe, had taken up a position on the high ground beyond 
the arco scuro. I had put all my marbles in places where they would be least 
exposed, and had prepared myself, in the event of a night attack, to remain at the 
base of the stone spiral staircase leading down from my apartment to the studio ; 
but, on entering the second studio for a chair, a shell burst in the wall, Avhich is 
more than two feet thick, and had I been one step in advance, I must have been 
struck. As it was I escaped with contusions ; the lamp in my hand was broken, 
but the hand uninjured. I picked up nine pieces of the shell ; several casts were 
smashed, but happily none of my marble works were touched." 

It was difficult to determine the cause of Wyatt's decease. The woman who 
paid a daily visit to attend to his rooms, entering by her own key at six in the 
morning of the 28th of May, 1850, found him lying insensible on the floor of his 
bedchamber. She ran for Mr. Freeborn, the consol, and he, with Dr. Pantaleone 
and his brother - sculptor, Spence, were soon there ; but he never spoke again, 
and at ten o'clock he ceased to breathe. He was still strong, and in excellent 
health ; but it has never been thought that his death was occasioned by himself. 
It was said he had no cares whatever, but it was foiuid he had received notice to 
leave his studio, which was to be taken down ; and this passing trouble to a man 
of his temperament had afflicted him greatly. 




Adoration of the Magi [Fia.xina?i). 



WILLIAM WYON. 



SCIENCE TRIMS THE LAMP OF LIFE. 




f/:g 






Monument to Mr. Quantocli, Chichester [Flax7nan]. 



WILLIAM WYON. 




^^HE artist of this and other works of a similar nature stands alone in our 
book, being a medallist, not a sculptor in marble. His work is "with 
the die for metal-stamjoing, but the powers of design and modelling 
required are not less, nor the abilities different from those of the more important 
sculptor of life-size works. The name of Wyon, for the same reason, stands alone 
also on the list of members of the Eoyal Academy, although, at its first establishment, 
that body had to complete its number of forty members by receiving heraldry- 
painters, seal-engravers, and others. 

Wben that nationally important institution was established, it was intended to 
contain all the artists of any standing or accomplishment in the country — not merely 
to afford a certain number a privilege of exhibition, and the distinction belonging to 
a limited body. However, at that time there were men whose exclusion was clearly 



76 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



necessary for the peace and well-being of tlie body, wliicli operated to draw round 
it a self-protective and exclusive character ; and now, when the number of educated 
gentlemen and able men following the professions included in the plan of the insti- 
tution has multiplied twenty-fold, this character still continues. Its operation in 
other respects has drawn down upon it the animadversions of many. Engraving — 
not Wyon's kind, but copper engraving, the art of Albert Diii-er and Marc' Antonio — 
it shut its doors against, it is said from dislike to Sir Eobert Strange, a patrician 
and a Jacobite, the majority of the first members being possibly plebeians by origin. 
Whatever the cause, from Strange to John Burnet, the only engraver admitted was 
Eartolozzi, who was received by a trick ; and now that the great and beautiful art 
of pictm'e-engraving is nearly extinct in England, the Eoyal Academy has revoked 
its anathema, and honours engravers when there are none to honour. 

Wyon's family were Germans. His grandfather had engraved the silver cup 
embossed with the ominous subject of the "Assassination of Julius Ctesar," presented 
l')y the City of London to Wilkes. He was born at Bii-mingham, where his father 
had settled, in 1795, and came to London in 1816 to be second engi'aver to the 
]\Iint, his cousin Thomas being at the head of it. When this cousin died, Pistrucci 
got the appointment, when a quarrel arose that made much noise at the time, and 
produced an extraordinary partisan feeling, under the influence of which Wyon was 
elected by the Eoyal Academy. 

The medal we engrave is an enlargement from the Brodie Testimonial, and is 
certainly an exquisite work of its kind. Wyon executed a medal of St. George 
fVn- Prince Albert ; the medals for the Peninsular victories, Trafalgar, and others. 
Also civic medals for the Geological and Geogi-aphical Societies, the Eoyal Academy, 
and Art-Union. Our coinage, from the later years of George IV. to Victoria of the 
year of his death (1851), is from his hand. A beautiful die made by him for a 
coin of the value of £5 of Victoria, with a figure of Una on the reverse, has never 
been used. 




'•Deliver us from evil" (Flaxman). 



JOHN THOMAS. 



BOADICEA. 



SAMUEL JOSEPH. 



MONUiAlENT TO WILBERFORCE. 



X 




JOHN THOMAS. 




iT seems uow a long time ago siucc tlie old Houses of Parliament, with 

their plain exterior and time-honoured tapestries of the Spanish Armada, 

went down in a sea of fire, and the new building rose up year after 

3'ear, while the astonishing spectacle of Westminster Ilall filled with competition 

Cartoons, Paintings, and Sculptures, in successiye years, spread a new interest in 

the arts all over the country. 

It was then the immense line of workshops were constructed for the skilled 
masons and carvers employed in the almost endless labour of oruamentation, and 
Thomas — distinguished by his surencss of hand, celerity of execution, and command- 
ing intelligence— placed oyer them. Barry, as we all know, had Pugiu to assist 
him in the multitudinous details ; but without Thomas, then a little over thirty 
(having been born in 1813), that assistance woidd have been very difficult to apjily. 
And certainly the vista of men working in the long atdicr was an interesting sight. 



8o 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



Sketches and working drawings, models in clay and plaster, stringcourses of stone, 
Lrackets, and niclies, with their figures of kings and queens, were visible one after 
another, with their respective sculptors \dgorously using the mallet and chisel. 
Perliaps there was no other man in England, or, we might say, in the world, no 




Ari,:I dinrtin^- tlu- Storm [Bronze by J. 27iomas). 



one i)ossessing the complete practical training, with the versatile and inventive 
ability, displayed by Thomas, under whom the whole could have proceeded so 
regularly and easily. 

This occupation necessarily prevented him completing many independent works ; 



SAMUEL JOSEPH. 8i 



this large group in marble of " Tlie Queen of the Eastern Britons rousing her 
Subjects to Kevenge " being one of the few completed by him. It was transferred 
to marble by desire of Sir M. Peto, whose property it now is. Thomas died at the 
early age of forty-nine, nearly ten years ago — in 1862. 




SAMUEL JOSEPH. 

|IS great work in this world nearly accomplished, Wilberforce retired from 

Parliament and from active life in 1825, and died in 1833. It was 

immediately after determined to erect a memorial to the philanthropist 

in "Westminster Abbey, and the very striking and characteristic portrait-statue we 

have engraved was placed on its pedestal there in 1840. 

As a life-like representation of a great and good man it commands universal 
attention, showing the peculiar nervous action of the origiaal. 

Of the sculptor of this remarkable figure, however, we are imable to give an 
account, and unable also to point out other works of his, except the statue of 
Wilkie, in the vestibule of the National Gallery ; haviag looked in vain through 
the literary and artistic journals from that time downwards in hopes of finding at 
least an obituary notice. But neither in them nor in Knight's "British Cyclo- 
psedia," the Biographical division of which has an Appendix added, nor in the 
later books of a similar kind, can his name be found. 

The statue of Sir Da\'id Wilkie has been severely criticised as wanting in truth 
to the personal characteristics of the original — a question best spoken to by those 
who knew the eminent Scottish artist ; but, as a work of art, we look upon it as 

Y 



82 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



very able. Certainly, no one can find the Wilberforce statue wanting in indi- 
viduality ! 

In the absence of all other information regarding Joseph, the writer may mention 
an early recollection of him coming to Edinburgh, and establishing himself there for 
a time. This might be about 1830, or a few years earlier; but the writer was too 
young to be actually acquainted with the sculptor or his works, in such a way as 
to give any account of them now. 




Charity (y. Thomas). 




Tlie Angel appearing to Peter [Flaxnian). 



SIR RICHARD WESTMACOTT. 

EUPHROSYNE. 




Zcphyriis and Aurora [Flaxman). 



SIR RICHARD WESTMACOTT, 




I IE EICHAED WESTMACOTT, who died at fifty-seven, the age of 
middle life to many artists, in 1856, leaving behind him a talent which 
has become hereditary in the family, was one of the most productive of 
all our sculptors. Poetic inventions ia the manner of the ancients, and in the 
emblematic spu'it of modern times ; portrait sculpture with a certain beauty of 
treatment and elegance, but with also a degree of conventional hardness referable 
to his Eoman education ;• and monumental designs, worked out with great mechanical 
finish, were all produced by him in considerable numbers. 

Eichard Westmacott was born in the last year of the eighteenth century, and 
while still very young had the good fortune to be received in a manner into the 
studio of Canova (as Gibson was nearly at the same time), then advanced in years 
and covered with honours. This fact decided the character of his works, and the 
young man, possessed of much fancy, extraordinary facility, and determined 
ambition, was powerfully impressed by the refinement and distinguished elegance 
of the Italian master, who was at the head of his art ia Europe. 

To make any remarks in this place derogatory to the works and position of 

z 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



Aiitonio Canova would be superficial, the space requisite to define with any 
completeness the peculiarities of these and the conditions under which they were 
done, being wanting. The style of his art, its refinements and affectations, responded 
to the sympathies of the age, and it must be certain the works that held Europe 
fascinated for so long a time must have qualities to be treated with respect. 
"Hebe;" "The Graces;" the group from the Tomb of the Archduchess Christina, 
one of the daughters of Marie Theresa, which has been called "Beneficence;" the 
figure dancing, absurdly called "the Dancing Girl reposing;" and many others, 
have indeed lost some of their widespread admiration of former years, but still 
thej' represent a thoroughly accompKshed art, exercised on lovely subjects with 
perfect taste, according to the notions of the day. 

The influence on Westmacott was, however, of a mixed and doubtful kind ; 
removed by time and place, the hard and sharp modelling in the extremities and 
features and the manner of expressing the hair, which one instantly recognises as 
derived from Canova, lost the charm it had in the hand of the master. In many 
of Westmacott' s works, however, the originality of the motif has carried him away 
from any touch of his master's manner, and there is no doubt his best works have 
an English sentiment and some charm of simplicity all his own. 

The work that confirmed the favourable anticipations of the friends of the yormg 
artist, was "The Wanderer," a houseless nursing mother sitting sadly with her 
child gone to sleep in her arms. This pathetic figure, well known to all of us, was 
to be applied to the commemoration of a charitable lady, Mrs. Warren, widow of 
the Bishop of Bangor, but being previously exhibited in' the Academy in 1822, 
when the young sculptor was in his twenty-third year, it produced an extraordinary 
sensation, and was carried off by the Marquis of Lansdowne to his scat at Bowood. 
A replica had to be done for the monument, which was erected in Westminster 
Abbey, and still a third for Mrs. Ferguson of Eaith, at Beal in Scotland. 

To contrast with this, he then designed the " Happy Mother," exhibited in 



SIR RICHARD WESTMACOTT. 87 



1825, a group exceedingly fine in arrangement and divapery, but like the last only 
to be seen from one side, and this limitation is to be found in other works by 
Westmacott. 

From that time he was one of the most active and prolific of artists in om school, 
having many commissions, and yet finding time to work out his poetic inventions 
in marble. Many of these have been exceedingly popular. The "Cupid" in the 
possession of the Duke of Bedford, and the " Euphi'osjme " we now engrave, are 
among the most original and beautiful. "Cupid" in Westmacott's hands is not 
a child, but a youth with filleted hau', and a bow of dangerous proportions, over 
which he leans watchfully. The Euphrosyne, the marble of which was exhibited 
in 1837, and went into the possession of the Duke of Newcastle, is presumably 
suggested by "L' Allegro" of MUton, who addresses the loveliest of the three 

Graces, 

" Come, thou goddess fair and free, 

In heaven y'clep'd Euphrosyne, 

Come and trip it as you go 
On the light fantastic toe." 

The habit of modelling statues with an exclusive attention to one point of view 
disposes of many difficulties, but we would not venture to say an artist with so much 
energy and productiveness considered this. It might rather result from employment 
on monumental groups, which are to be placed generally against the waU. Also ' 
from a disposition to work in relievo, and as an example of our artist's manner in 
sculpture in that form, we may mention his " Charity," an emblematic figure recalling 
in sentiment the Christian inventions of Flaxman. 

Westmacott was one of the sculptors who gave evidence on the transcendent 
excellences of the Elgin marbles, when they were off'ered to the nation. An 
impression, from the time of Keat's sonnets addressed to the painter downwards 
exists in the public mind, that Haydon stood alone in critical acumen on that 



88 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 

occasion. This impression was made by his own assertion to tliat effect ; but a 
perusal of the Parliamentary book of evidence dispels that illusion. Haydon 
certainly gave his opinion loudly and unasked, a mode of giving advice that some- 
times results in the best counsel being declined. In the case of the Elgin marbles 
happily this did not happen. The unprofessional gentlemen called in to give 
judgment, Mr. Payne Knight and others, made sad mistakes ; but the sculptors, 
although by no means agreed, gave, as a whole, a verdict entirely favourable. 




'J'/iy Kingdom ro///,' " [/'7axmaii] 




JJojti/uwnt ill Leeds Church [Flaxman). 



L. WATSON. 



SARPEDON CARRIED BY SLEEP AND DEATH. 



A A 







X 



\l 



^ 




Monument to Mrs. Knight, Cambridge [Fiaxman). 



M, L, WATSON, 




jgHE name of Watson, Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson, will be almost 
unknown to many of onr readers, and yet on mature consideration, and 
fully aware of the danger of saying so wrongly, we must pronounce 
him the truest sculptor and best artistic intellect, after Flaxman and Banks perhaps, 
of all we have had to mention. Like many others, both critics and artists, the 
present writer was prepared to pass him by with a short notice, — acquainted only 
with his " Sarpedon carried by Death and Sleep," which has a suspicious likeness 
to Flaxman, with his monument to Allan Cunningham, which is certainly one of 
his weakest works, and disliking the very names of Eldon and Stowell (a prejudice, 
we must acknowledge),— had we not been warned by one of the leading artists of 
the day to study Watson's works, and form a more deliberate judgment. The 
result has been one to which we would willingly bring our readers also, if our space 
would permit, — a conviction that Watson was ■ by nature endowed for the highest 



92 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



things, and that, he was a man of the noblest order, on whom success shouhl have 
waited, and whose perceptions and judgment were equal to his endowments. On 
the other hand, like Flaxman, his bodily forces betrayed him ; one of the smallest 
ot men, and weakest of constitutions, and his impatience of mean motives and mean 
actions made him alternately the victim and the enemy of those who occupied the 
field. Between the one and the other, want of strength and want of friends, his 
fame depends on fewer works than that of other men, and part of these are left in 
destructible materials, but these few, from their variety and from the typical, central 
character, give him the high place we have claimed for him. Besides, he died at 
forty-three, when, generally speaking, men who follow professions requiring public 
confidence before important commissions can be expected, are only beginning their 
career. 

In one respect, and only one, Watson has been lucky, he has had a worthy 

biographer, whose book is almost the only one relating to the art or its professors in 

our language worth reading, except the Lectures of Flaxman. Dr. Lonsdale's life is 

very interesting, and is illustrated by photographs of the principal works of his hero. 

In the vale of the C'auda, which runs in an impetuous stream for nearly 

twenty miles, at last falling into the Eden, close to Carlisle, near a ford where the 

road from the south passes the stream, is an ancient house now falling into ruin, 

called "The Bogg," or "Bogg Ilall." Over the doorway is carved in stone 

"T. W. and F. W. 1091." This is the seat of the ancestors of our hero, and these 

initials are nearly the only record of a family who lived from one generation to 

another in this wild and unfrequented region, sending out its younger branches to 

make theii' fortimes as they might. The little estate belonging to this house was 

the patrimony of Watson, and his early history was the history of an unending 

deadly struggle with the ignorance and prejudice of his relatives, especially with 

his mother and her sister, who were of humble origin, and determined he should 

be a lawyer. i 



M. L. WATSON. 93 



These lawyer days in Carlisle ended on the death of his father at the end of 
1823, when Mnsgrave was not yet twenty, so that perhaps he lost nothing by them, 
especially as he had abeady been hard at work drawing and modelling, and formed 
one of a little coterie of self-tanght artists ; Dunbar the sculptor, and others, who 
after twenty years retained a vivid remembrance of his intelligence and vivacity, 
" although in iignre he is described as all head and no body, you could have put him 
into a big coat pocket." A year more and he was twenty-one, and his own master ; 
he went the round of all his friends and bade them adieu, he was bound for Eonie. 

His last call was on a publican, whose pretty daughter Helen he was much in 
love with ; but what was to be done ? imperious necessity called him, and he said 
good-bye to her in her father's house. A little of a Bohemian all thi'ough his 
career, Watson was a peculiar one, a gentleman-Bohemian, as the true artist or poet 
has a natural tendency to be. 

It was a dark rainy February morning when our hero moimted to the top of the 
London Mail at the Bush Hotel, Carlisle, among well-mufEed felloAV-passengers, no 
one could recognise. By-and-by the sun rose and the coach stopped for breakfast, 
when the attention of all was drawn to a young female who seemed afraid to 
approach the fire and unable to breakfast. Watson's heart very likely recognised 
her, for he prevailed on her to allow him to divest her of her mantle to chy it, when 
his well-beloved Helen revealed herself. Eeturn she would not, she would go with 
him to the ends of the earth, and so she did, to the eiid of her life at least. It was 
a marriage of love, and they were true to each other. Long after returning from 
Borne, but before he had yet become sufficiently known to receive important com- 
missions, while still in fact, the luckier but less able men, Chantrey more especially, 
were trying to use him for their own behoof, a drawing is the only record of hor 
death. This drawing was a mystery to his biographer ; it represented a female head 
invested in a thin cap, which exposed the sweet still face to the parting of the hair, 
" the perfection of repose, stillness, or inanimation, if you will, reigning throughout 

B I! 



94. THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE, 



the exquisitely cMselled features, recalling Byron's lines on Greece, ' So coldly 
sweet, so deadly fair.' " Under tliis drawing was written, "Be it Death or Sleep — 
lying in loveliness." They had a son who grew up to manhood and showed some 
abilities, but the sea offered greater excitement. 

Watson's abode in Eome has its anecdote too. His family had never heard from 
him, and thought him dead ; but Dunbar, his old associate, found also his way to the 
central capital, and, with a commission to search for him, at last succeeded by 
accident, finding him in a German community, living cheaply and ignoring the 
English ; his was then, we are told, " the kind of uncombed exterior that 
characterises the genus artist congregated about the Piazza di Spagna." The genus 
artist, it ought to be added, without any commissions or the hope of any. 

Home again it was much the same. He did indeed try to find an interest in 
certain quarters, but the "pati'onage" he met with was of so contemptible a 
character, we are astonished to read the incidents recorded. Then he sought work 
in other studios ; Chantrey engaged him to model from drawings, and after a day 
or two, coming roiuid to see what had- been done, found it so excellent, he took 
Watson to his own department, showed him the design for the monument to 
Mrs. Digby, and asked his opinion of it. " Watson very calmly pointed out several 
faults, showing that the work as it then stood had not caught the sentiment of the 
subject. Chantrey more and more pleased, asked him to leave that he was engaged 
on, and take up the Digby Monument, and this he continued to do till it was 
completed." 

Westmacott then induced him to give his aid to some work going on under his 
name ; and it has been repeatedly said Watson worked eight hoiu's daily for each 
of them at the same period, but this must have been only for one or two days under 
pressing cii'cumstances. At all events, his connection with Chantrey soon ceased, that 
gentleman had all the richest commissions, and would have taken double what he 
could attend to himself, but would not pay Watson Avhat om- hero thought he 



M. L. WATSON. 95 



deserved. The result was a grand quarrel, tlie little creature giving the rubicund 
person "a bit of his mind," and telling Cunningham, who afterwards proved his 
best friend, that "none but a Scotchman would work for such a parsimonious 
fellow ! " We fear Watson had a considerably vigorous use of the vernacular in 
such cases, and must have wounded Chantrey, since we afterwards find that most 
successful of men, when the Committee, about to appoint Watson to do the Frieze iu 
the Hall of Commerce in Threadneedle Street, asked Chantrey's opinion of him, 
reply he did not know any such person ! 

He afterwards was asked by Behnes to come into his studio, and his doing so 
attracted attention. At fli'st all went well, he remodelled the figm-e of Dr. Babington, 
retaining only Behnes' head, and this monumental statue has always passed as the 
work of that erratic sculptor. He then made the design of the " C-rii-l and Lizard," 
which stood in plaster till Watson's death, and was then done in marble and 
exhibited by Behnes as his own. When the " Hall of Commerce " Frieze, already 
mentioned, was in debate, the competition designs selected were two, those by 
Watson and Behnes ; this was long after the connection of the two had ceased ; but 
Watson had been asked by a third party to make him a di-awing of a Frieze, and 
this was the drawmg sent in to the competition by Behnes ! 

All these things are painful to record, but we do so under the knowledge that 
much of this falsity and scheming still exists, as we have been assm-ed by one of the 
leading sculptors of the day, who has himself struggled thi-ough and now stands in 
the front. 

Oiu" proper business is with Watson's acknowledged works. It may have been 
concluded by the reader that oiu' artist had many sides to his character, humoiu' not 
being excluded. Dm-ing these years of drudgery, when it was of no use to think 
of marble, he modelled in clay. One of these models is " The Crutched Friars," two 
broad-built and too jolly bretlu-en, clinging together in the most charming state of 
vinous happiness. The sculptor had no dislike to celibates or mendicants, had no 



96 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



bias in religion, he was a pious man wlio tliouglit little of dogmas or peculiarities, 
so that the satire is really levelled as much at the ecclesiastical " fleshliness " of the 
dignitaries in the English Chiu'ch, as at the monks of the middle ages, but the 
old habit and character were more to his liking. Such a group as this, of course, 
entirely takes rank according to its art, and it is impossible to convey to the reader 
any taste of the richness of modelling, and fulness of enjoyment, visible in the 
artist's work. About the same time he modelled statuettes of Chaucer, Spenser, 
and Ben Jonson. We can only speak here of the Chaucer. It is one of the 
most simple, ' noble, and beautiful portrait-statues ever done. These were baked, 
and a certain number sold in terra-cotta. 

Of another work left in the clay we can only speak as we feel, and that is with 
complete and xmmixed praise. He called it the " Outcasts," a mother and her 
children exposed to the storm ; one of the most pathetic, and with the least alloy of 
merely popular sentiment, ever done in sculptui'e. The " Sarpedou carried by Sleep 
and Death," from the Iliad, we are able to give in engraving. How tine is the dead 
'lero's head, supported by the shoulder of Sleep, and the head of Sleep loaning on 
the breast of the hero ! The ancients never "embodied Death, nor does Eiu-ipides 
give a definitive form to the figui-e, although he makes Hercules wrestle with him. 
Watson's embodiment is in the spirit of classic sculpture, but seems to reciuire 
explanation. 

The grandson of Lord Eldon had commissioned Chantrcy to commemorate in 
marble the two brothers Eldon and StowcU, Avho had reached so high a place in the 
world's esteem, just before the death of that successful sculptor.* Lord Eldon then 
requested Allan Cimniugham to carry on the work, and that gentleman called 



m 



* This notice of Watson is the last of all the uotiocs wc ha^■e to write. In the few pages about 
CLantrey we had occasion to refer to Mr. G. Jones, K.A. We now learn that the only commencement 
made by Chantrey for the great Eldon and Stowell monument was in the shape of a few suggestixe 
sketches in pen and ink by Jones ! 



M. L. WATSON. 



97 



Watson. Cunningham clied shortly after, and Watson found the commission entirely 
in his own hands. This group, or rather these two judicial statues, sitting side by 
side, form perhaps the most impressive commemoration by portrait sculpture in 
England. This duplex work is in the Library of University College, Oxford, and 
cost, one way and another, before it was finally settled where it now is, about 
£14,000. 

Watson's next work was a bas-relief in Caen stone, to the memory of Dr. 
Archibald Cameron, who lost his head seven years after the rebellion of 1745, for 
having beer> .Charles Stuart's army surgeon. This was destroyed by the fire that 
consumed the Savoy chapel in 1864. 

The last work we care to mention may be seen any day on the staii"case of the 
Flaxman Gallery, iii the London University. It is the sitting statue of that first 
of English sculptors, one of the noblest pieces of modern art. Watson died on the 
28th October, 1847, and is buried in Highgate Cemetery. 



§«©. 




c c 




Hhmnincnt to Lady Clarke^ T'eivkcsh^uy i^Flaxman). 



WILLIAM BEHNES. 



THE FRIENDS. 




Monument to Mrs. Hoare, Beckenham (Flax?nan). 



WILLIAM BEHNES, 




;E do not know whether to characterise William Behnes as the most lucky 

or the most iinlucky of men. There seemed to be an erratic force in his 

blood that made him endeavour to do his best, and a sense of excellence 

that sustained him to labour out their completion, but his good things were mixed 

with bad, and his sense of excellence gave way to the exigencies of the moment. 

As far as we know his history, he was his own master in the art. His father, a 
Hanoverian by birth, the son of a physician, had been brought up to a trade, 
lucrative for a short time, that of piano-maker ; came to London, married, and had 
three sons. He then changed to Dublin, and William, who was in this early time 

D D 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



his father's assistant, ^'hen they all retiu-ned to Loudon, was generally spoken of as 
an Irishman. How or when he began sculpture is unrecorded; but it is certain 
that he had no long years of disappointment or waiting for success after he did so, 
but was at once received and rewarded with such large practice in bust-sculpture, as 
kept him busy for a great part of his life. 

His brother Henry also pursued a similar career, and to avoid the confusion of 
two of the same name, he changed his to Barlowe, went to Eonie, and died a martyr 
to his benevolence, attending his friends and others dm-ing the fil^st severe visitation 
of cholera. William remained in London, aud his busts being really of the highest 
excellence, spread his fame year by year. Among others that of Clarksou has been 
called (me of the most excellent done in England, also that of Lord L}Tidhm-st. 
Mr. Disraeli in his younger days, the Bishop of Loudon, ]\Ir. Grote, the Duke of 
York, Mr. Macread}', and the notable King of Hanover, are the names of some of 
his sitters. This practice induced that of monumental statuary, and in that walk 
he executed the statue of Dr. Babington in St. Paul's, mentioned in the notice of 
Watson; Sir- E. Peel in the City, repeated elsewhere; George lA^. in Dublin, and 
Baron Joy there also. The last of his large portrait-statues was that of Havelock 
in Trafalgar Square, not one of his best, but reproduced for Sunderland. 

jIU this success and fortune seemed to fall from him without leaving either 
wealth or self-respect. He was irreparably wounded and iujured by his creditors 
dispersing his studi(» collections in ISGl, and in the beginning of 1SG4, little more 
tlian two years after. In- died in ^Middlesex Hospital. On this startling intelligence 
l)eing made jiublic, a mei'ting Avas held to erect some memorial to a man so gifted 
and so unfortunate. Dr. Babington was in the chair, but the amount of subscription, 
as far as known to us, did n(.)t warrant the undertaking lieiug carried out. Behnes' 
statues of cliildren were among his greatest successes; the "Boy and Babbit," "Boy 
a]id Eagle," aud the "Girl and Dog," called also "The Friends," now engraved in 
tlie pi-eseut vohuue, are all deservedly admired. 




Cupid {Alacdo'dielT). 



PATRICK MACDOWELL. 



READING GIRL 



THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE. 




PATRICK MACDOWELL 




XCEPT Turner elli we liave not yet even mentioned an Irishman or a 
Scotchman on the roll of names in the art of which we are treating. We 
are all the tetter pleased to write the name of Macdowell, feeling that 
he is strong enough in his siagle person to vindicate the sister island from the charge 
of barrenness. Within a certain limit, Macdowell may be considered to stand 
beside Gibson in the elaboration of his work, and, in some instances, in the purity 
of his form. He is not so uniform nor so coldly classic ; his designs of a poetic 
kind are few comparatively, but such a charming realisation as that of the "Keadirig 
Gild," and some other purely modern ideas, may stand in the place of many reiterated 
classicisms. 

As in the cases of Westmacott and Gibson, Macdowell had the fortune to 
receive a decided influence from Canova, and all these, it must be acknowledged, 

E E 



'o6 THE -BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



have had a considerable result ou English sculpture in the age just passed. 
Whether that influence is still vital, is another question. It would rather appear 
that it did not strike a deep enough root, but remained exotic ; and Macdowell 
especially had quite as much turn for natural and monumental themes as for the 
class of subjects characteristic of the school of the Italian sculptor. To estimate 
Cauova, we must consider what kind of art it was he supplanted ; his authority in 
leading back to the antique in the feeling for grace and elegance was a great 
service to art. A certain addition of meretricious refinement, however, it is to 
be feared, gave Canova his celebrity, and brought his pupils from all parts of 
the world ; and where the pupil was too weak to resist this fatal charm, the 
likeness to the master was easily caught. This cannot, however, be said to have 
been the result on Macdowell. It is a pity, as we have said before, no Englishman 
matriculated in the studio of Thorwaldsen. 

The " Triumph of Love," which we have made our Frontispiece, is one of 
the most charming compositions of modern times. The idea is fully expressed, 
and the impression conveyed has a unity A'ery remarkable. The figures are life- 
size, and the whole group is hewn out of one piece of marble ; and this, where 
so many parts are freed and the composition so complex, deserves to be mentioned, 
although it has little to do with the art. The only criticism we feel inclined to 
venture is that the period of life represented is a little beyond that when Love 
dominates with the greatest power : we indeed suspect that the first thought was 
to embody married love iinited by the child, which has been turned into the god 
by the addition of wings. This makes it more like Canova, but less original. 
The marble was commissioned by Mr. T. W. Beaumont, of Northumberland, and 
executed in 18.31. 

The sculptor was then thirty-two years of age, having been born in Belfast, 
August 12, 1799, where his father, becoming too slowly rich by his trade, whatever 
that was (his sou, who is our authority, docs not say), became a partner in an 



PATRICK MACDOWELL. 107 



extensive speculation which eyentiially proved ruiaous. He lost by this means 
all liis property, consisting of some houses in the town, and died. Patrick was 
sent at a tender age to board at a kind of school, the master of the house being 
an engraver. Here be became a favourite, and had the privilege of examining 
books of prints — so great a luxury to the young. At twelve his mother brought 
him to England ; at fourteen, the trade of a coach-builder was selected for bim ; 
and for four years and a half, when his master fortunately became bankrupt and 
gave up business, he followed that craft. Macdowell at that critical moment went 
to lodge in the house of a poor French sculptor, which brought him again into 
contact, however slight, with the seductions of art, and he became their slave. 
This Frenchman, Cheuse by name, even bought one of his di-awings; and his 
other early steps were of the same accidental nature. Becoming aware by adver- 
tisement of designs being invited for a monument to Major Cartwright, he tried 
his hand; and, although the work never was done, this was his opening to other 
things, and people began to notice him. 

Macdowell wrote a short narrative for the Art-Journal^ in which he related these 
circumstances and others, but his powers of expression in words are not sufficient. 
Yet we see that with him, as with so many of us, the early time of struggle, the 
bright early horu'S of the day of life— days of blindness and faith— had stamped 
themselves into his nature deeper than the impressions of the successes that followed. 

The " Gild Eeading " was in the great Exhibition of 1862, and was one of 
few works in sculpture that met with no adverse criticism from any party. Another, 
and more ordinary in its treatment, but very refined in sentiment, was the "Day- 
dream." To this he appended, in the Exhibition of the Academy in 1853, some 
lines of poetry, perhaps his oa^ti : — 

" A sudden thought, all sweetness in its depths, 
And yet perplexed by some vague doubt that came 
Like to a shadow playing in the sun — 



io8 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



Entranced her as sbe stood with poised foot 
And downward eye — a dream of past and future, 
With music in it from afar, now low 
And pensive, now with songs and cymbals gay ! 
What was that thought ? " 

"Early Sorrow," a girl with a dead bird, also done in marble for Mr. Beaumont, 
bad a touch of the sentimental ; and the son of that gentleman added the large 
marble group of " Virginius " to those his father had acquired. Macdowell died 
in 1864. 





'■^ lie shall give his A}2gels charge Loiiceriiii'ig thee''^ (Oibso/i). 



JOHN GIBSON. 

THE VENUS. 

HYLAS. 

CUPID AND PSYCHE. 



F P 



Wji>, 



W'' 








'''M)u)»^1m^tmimwimmimullAm^mv^timmIiimtiitiM^Mia^il^>'■ 




JOHN GIBSON. 



^^^^^Oli a long period of time, for half a century only short of twelve months, 
M \^^M John Gibson Avas a well-known figm-o in the art-world of Eome, at 
fii'st as the stndent and the quiet aspirant, afterwards as the successfu 
Ijut modest man of genius, and at last as the authority and still quiet chief. One 
set after another came and went, leaving a lucky brother noAV and then settled 
like himself in the eternal city. Now it was Wyatt, Scoular, Pcury Williams, 
Thecd, Eothwell, who might be seen at the breakfast hour all sitting in the time- 
honoured dirt of the Cafe Greco ; and then it was a Scotch set, Lawrence Mac- 
donald, Patric Park, David Scott, and E. S. Lauder, amidst confusion of tongues 
and clouds of smoke : in the open air, of course, if possible, but even in Eome 
tliere is T»\iiiter, when a retirement into the interior den is desirable. Happy those 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



who could remain in that blessed warren of antiques and paradise of do-nothing, 
and not return to assist in filling the annual Eoyal Academy exhibitions, struggle 
for endless but never sufficient thousands of income, and pursue the flying interests 
of the day. The sculptor only, however, really had it in his power to remain 
with advantage in Eome, and after Canova and Thorwaldsen were gone, at least 
after liis short visit to England in 18-14, the first time he had left Eome in 
twenty-eight years, Gibson took his place as the leading i epresentative of the 
art. 

Gibson's early life was somewhat like that of Macdowell. Born in a country 
place, Conway in Wales, and in a family not very prosperous, he was similarly 
apprenticed, but not so lucky in the release from his engagements, he twice 
Ijccame a rebel. The trade he had first been articled to learn was that of a 
cabinet-maker, the second a carver, and for two years he cut in mahogany scrolls 
and other ornaments for furniture. Not wholly foreign to his future art, one may 
say, yet it was only a visit to a marble-mason's works that impressed him with the 
superiority of the sculptor over the carver. He refused to go on at his trade, 
and afterwards in later life declared of himself, " I was, as I think now, very 
ungrateful, but I could not help it, there was something working in me too strong 
for me to control." They threatened to put him in jail, but the result of the matter 
was, the proprietors of the marble-works bought him up, and for the third time 
he changed his trade, and for the fourth time a few years later, his last change 
beginning with the accpianitance with Eoscoe, then equally wealthy and authori- 
tative. At this juvenihi period he drew and modelled in such a way that Avhec 
he saw these early cfibrts twenty-eight years after, as it has fi-equently happened, 
under similar circumstances, ho was surprised by the energy and power displayed in 
his early productions. " He felt," to quote liis own words, " depressed and mortified, 
and asked himself whether he c(nild do better now?" "There is scarcely an artist 
of (miinence," adds the writ(!r wlio preserves this anecdote, "who, on looking back 



JOHN GIBSON. 113 



to Ms early attempts, has not experienced the same disappointment, and felt 
incliiied to ask himself the same question ; perhaps, because the progress after- 
wards made is less in power than in the art of using power. We have seen two 
little casts from models executed by Gibson for the centres of chimney-pieces, 
when he was yet in the workshop of the Messrs. Francis ; one represents a little 
Cupid in bas-relief, the other a recumbent Psyche. So early had this lovely Greek 
fable seized on his imagination ! And when he set aside Michelangelo as a model, 
and tm-ned, as his friend Eoscoe had advised, to the divine tranquillity of Greek 
art, Cupid and Psyche came back to haunt him, and appear to have haunted him 
ever since." 

Gibson and Michelangelo in the same breath has, we must say, something 
absurd in it. It is next to impossible he can ever have had any intelligent 
endeavour' or even sympathy ia that direction, but at that early period he may 
have thought so. He arrived in Eome with several letters to Canova, and these 
and his drawings together made the chief press him to let him be his banker. 
This Gibson refused, at which Canova smiled, and said, " Well, as you please, 
work hard, and I will introduce you to some of your own countrymen," and kept 
his word. The writer I have quoted above, whom I presume to be Mrs. Jameson, 
says : — 

" On leaving Canova's studio he set up for himself in the Via della Fontanella. 
Here the writer found him in 1821 working on the beautiful group of 'Psyche 
borne by the Zephyrs,' " (by a zephyr — the design we give in. a small wood engraving, 
p. 121). "In the self-same studio he was found twenty-six years afterwards, model- 
ling the exquisite bas-relief of the ' Hours leading forth the Horses of the Sun.' 
There was something inexpressibly touching and elevating too, in this sense of 
progress without change ; all appeared the same in that modest quiet little room, 
but around it extended lofty and ample ateliers, crowded with models of works 
ah-eady executed or in progress; and with workmen, assistants, students, visitors. 

G G 



114 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



The sctilptor himself perhaps a little sobered by years, but imspoiled by praise or 
prosperity ; pleased with success and still aspiring ; with no alloy of mean aims 
or personal vanity mingled with the intense appreciation of fame ; appeared and 
was the same benign, simple-minded and simple-hearted enthusiast in his art as 
when he stood before Eoscoe an tmknown youth, 

' And felt that he was greater than he knew ! ' " 

From time to time with a fatal persistence the attempt to reproduce the alleged 
painted sculpture of the ancients has been tried, and will be tried again till some 
result follows. That such solid and coarse painting as that exemplified on a 
portion of the panathenaic frieze of the Parthenon in the Sydenham Crystal 
Palace, could ever have overlaid the marvellous fiaish of the modelling of the 
marble seems impossible. That marble should have ever been employed, or that 
the lovely tones of inflexion ia the forms should have been carried out if these 
works were to be painted, present so many difiiculties that the world refused to 
believe that the ancients did paint their sculptures. This question is one of such 
interest that much learning and much time have been expended on the investi- 
gation, and even commissions have been appointed to inquire into it. Long ago 
it was necessarily acknowledged that the Egyptians painted their architecture and 
their statues of porphyry or wood, as the oriental nations manifestly do now and 
must have done in ancient times, but the votary of ancient sculpture, like Winckel- 
mann, either ignored the fact of the Greeks doing so, or denied it altogether. When 
those coloured casts we have alhided to at Sydenham were prepared for public 
exhibition, it was found necessary to produce authority for what had been done, 
and Mr. G. H. Lewes and Mr. W. Watkiss Lloyd were consulted on the subject 
by the managing authorities. 

Some of the "historical evidence" prepared principally by Mr. Lewes is so 
distinct and interesting we may quote from it shortly here. 



JOHN GIBSON. ■ ■ ns 



- " The idea of the Greeks having painted their statues is so repugnant to all 
our modern prejudgments, that the mind is slow in familiarising itself with the 
fact, even when indisputable evidence is brought forward. They were artists 
of such exquisite taste, and of principles so severe, that to accuse them of having 
painted statues is to accuse them of committing what in our day is regarded as 
pure ' barbarism.' The Greeks did not aim at reality, but at ideality, and the 
painting of statues is thought to be only an attempt to imitate reality. 

" Nevertheless, however startling, the fact remains that the Greeks did paint 
their statues. In the first place, the reader must get out of all sculpture 
galleries, ei'ase from his mind all preconceptions derived from antique remains 
and modern practices. Having done so, let him reflect on the historical develop- 
ment of sculpture, and he will see this idea of painted figures falling into its 
true place. 

" Sculpture, of course, began in Greece, as elsewhere, with idols. It is the 
custom of all barbarous nations to colour their idols. The Egyptians, as we 
know beyond a doubt, not only coloured, but dressed theii's, so did the Greeks. 
It may be a question whether the Greeks borrowed their art from the Egyj^tians, 
improving it, as they did everything else. Let scholars decide that question. 
This, however, is certain, that in either case the Egyptian practice would 
obtain : — 

« 

"1st. If the Greeks borrowed from the Egyptians, they would borrow the 
painting and dressing. 

" 2nd. If they did not borrow— if their art was indigenous— then it would 
come under the universal law of barbarian art ; and painting would, at any rate 
in the earlier epochs, have been employed. We know that both painting and 
dressing were employed in all epochs. 

" This being so, and the custom being universal, unless the change from painted 
to unpainted statues had been very gradual, insensibly so, the man who first 



ii6 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



produced a marble statue without any addition would have been celebrated as an 
innovator. No such celebrity is known." 

(Here we may say this presumptive argument is worth very little. No one 
doubts that in the archaic times the D^dalean wooden figures, whether small or 
great, were painted, but as no paint was found on the Elgiu marbles, although 
certainly the pedimental background was sure to be blue, on the Laoeoon or 
Apollo Belvidere, Venus of Milo, or a hundred other statues of the great periods, 
while we do find it still on the little wooden figures in question, we must not 
suppose that the practice was universal and continuous. The hair of the Venus 
de Medicis showed traces of gilding, the ears were bored as for ornaments to be 
suspended therefrom, but there is no sign of the fiesh having been painted. At 
present we find where the Virgin Mary is worshipped,— that is to say, where 
people are seen on their knees addressing the image, or presenting it with votive 
offerings, as in Belgium or Bavaria, — the image is painted and clothed, but even 
in another part of the same chiu-ch you see an ivory crucifix or a white marble 
statue.) 

"Ancient literature abounds with references to the practices of painting and 
dressing statues. 

'■'■Dressing statues. — Pausanias describes a nympheum, where the women 
assembled to worship, containing figures of Bacchiis, Ceres, and Proserpine, the heads 
of which alone were visible, the rest of the bodies being hidden by di-aperies. And 
this explains a passage in TertuUian, where he compares the goddesses to rich 
ladies having theu- attendants specially devoted to dress them — suas hahehant 
ornatrices. Hence Homer alludes to ofi'erings of garments ; Hector tells Hecuba 
to choose the most splendid peplos to ofi'er to Minerva. Dionysius, the tyrant 
of Syracuse, stripped the Jupiter of his golden cloak, mockingly declaring that 
it was too heavy for summer and too cold for winter." 

Mr. W. W. Lloyd steps in here, and says that the cloak of the Sicilian Jupiter 



JOHN GIBSON. 117 



does not illustrate the subject, as it was probably not drapery, but solid metal 
like tbe golden JEgis of tbe Miaerva of Phidias, whicli could be removed 
and replaced. 

" Coloured statues. — If we had no other evidence than is afforded by the great 
variety of materials employed — ivory, gold, ebony, silver, brass, bronze, lead, 
iron, cedar, pear-tree, &c. — it would suffice to indicate that the prejudice in favour 
of the ' purity of marble ' is a prejudice. The Greeks made statues of ivory and 
gold combined. They also combined various metals with a view of producing the 
effect of coloiur. Pliny tells us, that the sculptor of the statue of Athanias, 
wishing to represent the blush of shame succeeduig the murder of his son, made 
the head of a metal composed of copper and ii'on, the dissolution of the ferruginous 
material giving the surface a red glow. Twenty analogous examples might be cited." 

(These diverse materials would seem to supersede the necessity of painting. 
In modern times vagaries are not imknown. In an important monument in 
Venice, we remember negro caryatides made of black marble in the flesh, and 
white or coloured marble in the dresses, which were rent at the knees, showing the 
dark skin at the torn places.) 

"Let it be remembered that Socrates was the son of a sculptor, and that 
Plato lived in Athens, acquainted with the great sculptors and their works ; then 
read this passage, whcrehi Socrates employs, by way of simile, the practice of 
painting statues. 'Just as if when pamting statues, a person should blame us 
for not putting the most beautiful colours on the most beautiful parts of the 
figure— inasmuch as the eyes, the most beautiful parts, were not painted purple 
but black— we should answer him by saying, " Clever fellow, do not suppose we 
are to paint eyes so beautifully that they should not appear to be eyes." ' " 

Mr. W. W. Lloyd agam breaks ia— "This passage is decisive as far as it 
goes, but it does not touch the question of colouring the flesh. It proves that 
as late as Plato's time it was usual to apply coloiu- to the eyes of statues, and 

H H 



ii8 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



assuming what is not stated, that marble statues are in question, we are brought 
to the same point as bj^ the iEginetan marbles, of which the eyes, lips, portions 
of the armour and di'aperies, were only found coloured. I forget whether the 
hair was so." 

" Here is a passage which not only establishes the sense of the one in Plato, 
but while unequivocally declaring that the ancients painted their statues, gives 
th(^ reason why the paint is so seldom discoverable on the remains. It is from 
Plutarch : ' It is necessary to be very careful of statues, otherwise the vermilion 
with which the ancient statues were coloured will quickly disappear.' " 

Mr. W. W. Lloyd again : — " This passage refers to archaic sacred figm-es, and 
at Pome, not in Greece. The first duty of certain Poman officials on taking office 
(after attending to the sacred geese and ganders) was to furbish the agahna^ or statue, 
which was necessary on account of the quicJc fading of the vermilion with tvhich they 
used to tinge tJie cercliaie statues. This is an acciu'ate translation and a literal — 
implying a difference between the arclmic and the more modern in respect of colotir. 
though not necessarily excluding all coloiu' froiii the latter." 

' ' There are abundant notices extant of the uses of vermilion. The celebrated 
marble statue of a 'Pacchante,' by Scopas, is described as holding, in lieu of 
the Thyrsus, a dead roebuck, which is cut open, and the marble represents living 
■flesh. Vii'gil in an epigram, not only offers Venus a imrlle statue of Amor, the 
wings of which shall be many-coloured and the quiver painted, but he intimates 
that this shall be so because it is customary. 

' Marmoreusqne tibi, Dea, versicoloribus alis 
In morem pictu stabit Amor pharetra.' 

And in the seventh Eclogue, Virgil, speaking of the statue of Diana, describes 
it as of marble, with scarlet sandals bound round the leg as high as the calf." 
(Surely these two passages imply that the coloiu-ed parts weri^ exceptional, 



JOHN GIBSON. iiQ 



and that the statue itself, the Amor and the Diana themselves, were not 
painted.) 

" And there is a passage in Pliny which is decisive as soon as we understand 
the allusion. Speaking of Nicias (lib. xxxv., cap. ii.), he says that Praxiteles, 
when asked which of his marble works best satisfied him, replied, ' Those that 
Nicias has had under his hands ' — so much, adds Pliny, did he pri^e the finishing 
of Mcias, tcmtum circumlitioni ejus trihuehat. 

"The meaning of this passage hangs on the word circumlitio. Wiuckelmann 
follows the mass of commentators ia understanding this as referring to some mode 
of polishing the marble ; but Quatremere de Quincy, in his magnificent work, ' Le 
Jupiter Olympien,' shows this to be out of the question. Nicias was an encaustic 
painter^ and hence it seems clear that his circumlitio, his mode of finishing the 
statues, must have been the application of encaustic painting." 

After some further illustrations, Mr. Lewes concludes that the Greek artists 
did coloiu- the flesh of their statues, and he considers we have abundant evidence 
on the marble remains themselves to prove they did so. Mr. "W". W. Lloyd, on 
the other hand, is far from convinced ; indeed, he sums up thus : — 

" The argument for colour on marble flesh of the best age from existing remains, 
so far as I am aware, is equal to zero. But the passage respecting Wicias and 
Praxiteles, is of very great force. There is no escape from its aiDplication to marble 
statues, nor from the great skill that there was occasion and scope for in the 
circumlitio. Whatever this tinging or colouring may have been, we may be sure 
it was so employed as to heighten the purest effects. The edge and sharpness, 
and smoothness and brilliancy of the material cannot have been destroyed by it ; 
■ rather sobered it may have been, but still enhanced. If a verdict were to be 
given on evidence as it stands, I am much disposed to think that it must be in 
favour of a tinge of vermilion, protected by a brilliant variush, having been 
applied to the nude portions of (? some) marble statues in such a manner that 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



both colour and varnisli assisted the fine surface and brilliant effect of the lucent 
marble." 

Gibson had long thought over this vexed question, and in the maturity of his 
judgment and of his powers came to the determination to try some work in 
emulation of "the finishing of jS^icias." This could only be done, so as to give 
the trial the best chance of success, on an important work ; and fii'st he went 
only a step, decorating the statue of the Queen with a coloiu'ed border on the 
ch-apery, an innovation, small as it was, caUiug out adverse criticism. Prince 
Albert, on the other hand, was much pleased with the novelty, so far as it went. 
After that venture, we heard rumours of his f'avotuite figure, the " Yenus," having 
undergone a transformation, and in the Great Exhibition it was visible to all eyes. 
His mode of painting was exactly that indicated by Mr. W. W. Lloyd ; the hair 
and eyes were decidedly coloured, but the whole of the body had only the most 
deUcate rose-tint produced upon it. In the ears were small di'ops, and on the arm 
a bracelet of gold. The apple in the hand was bright, and the niche in which she 
stood was a pale-blue purple. 

jSTothing will reconcile the modern mind with this innovation, however ; and, 
great as was the success and beautiful as was the result, we imagine it will not 
again be tried on the same scale of importance. Xow and again eftorts in that 
direction will iadeed be made — in the great International just closed (1ST 1) there 
was one, a French bust tinted in a similar manner — but we have critically settled 
the question, closed the controversy, affirmed the abstraction of sculptui-e, and 
Gibson's "Yenus" will only stand as the "modern instance" confirmatory of the 
verdict. Whatever sculpture may have been to the ancients, influenced by religion 
and tradition, to us it is the art dealing only with form, having its ultimate 
perfection in the ideal. 

Except the short visit to England ah-eady mentioned, Gibson lived all his 
active life at Eome. It would not be instructive to enumerate his leading 



tj 



JOHN GIBSON. 



Avorks — which are many — because their names are but the names of the Olympians 
and the genii of mythology, the works themselves taking their place purely by 
their treatment and their transcendent excellence. 

He was wedded to his ai-t, so he remained celibate, and died in 1866. 




Psyche borne by Zephynis [Gibson). 



I I 




Monument in Ileston Cliiirch [Flaxmnn]. 



EDWARD HODGES BAILY. 



THE GRACES. 



MATERNAL AFFECTION. 




\^^ 





The Consolation of Religion. Monument to Mrs. North, Winchester {Flaxtnan). 



EDWARD HODGES DAILY, 




jJNE of the most immediate successes ever made by a work in sculpture 
was that of "Eve at the Fountain," by Baily. He had previously to 
this exhibited an important and noteworthy statue, which will always 
be considered one of the select productions of our school of sculptui-e, "Apollo 
afflicting the Greeks," shootiag with his golden and deadly bow, from the opening 
of the Iliad ; and this had at once given him a favoiu^able position — made him 
indeed, an associate of the Eoyal Academy. This was in 1817 ; but when his 
"Eve at the Fountain" followed next year, it produced such a sensation that even 
now it remains a favourite with the public, in spite of all that has been since done. 
Even on the Continent it is known to a considerable degree, and, in the ignorance 

e; k 



^ 



,26 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



of other English, works, is occasionally mentioned as the chef-cV oeuvre of our school. 
Such good fortime as this is exceedingly difficult to account for, ready as we are 
to acknowledge the novelty of the motif in sculi^ttire, the tenderness of the action, 
the innocence of the pleasure in seeing for the first time her own beauty, in the first 
created woman in the Garden of Eden. 

" As I bent down to look, just opposite 
A shape within the wat'ry gleam appeared, 
Bending to look on me." 

At this time the sculptor was thirty years of age ; and his native city (Bristol) 
took this early opportunity to do him all the honours in its power, commissioning 
him, at the price of six hundi'ed poimds, to produce it in marble, to be placed in 
the Literary Institution in that city, where it now remains. 

Born in 1788, Baily was the son of a man of considerable talent in the scarcely 
inferior art of wood-carving — an art, however, which has little field, and in practice 
degenerates into a badly-remunerated trade. In a seaport, the elder Baily was, of 
course, mainly employed in the ornamentation of ships, no ship at that time going 
to sea without its decorative sculptiu'c on the bows, an adornment that steam-vessels 
seem to have contributed to do away with. Dissatisfied with his own position, the 
elder tried to make his son take to the desk. This Avas before the day of Wilber- 
force, and Bristol was making itself rich with the slave-trade, which it was supposed 
the new world could not do without. But the bias had already been given, and 
Baily resigned his prospects of commercial wealth in two years, and tried to support 
himself by modelling small busts in wax, the beginning of a practice ho founc 
valuable afterwards. The monument to Mrs. Draper, Sterne's "Eliza," by the 
elder Bacon (whose memoir we have given abeady), was at this time placed in 
the Cathedral, and made a great impression on him. Flaxman's designs for Homer 
and Hesiod were still more important, in an educational point of view ; and, indeed, 
their effect on him seems to have determined his life, as he sought and foimd an 



EDWARD HODGES BAILY. 127 



introduction to the master liimself. Flaxman -^-as favourably impressed, sent for 
him, and received him kindly. For seven years and a half he remained diligently 
working in Flaxman' s studio, during which time he gained the gold medal and 
fifty guineas from the Academy for the model of "Hercules restoring Alcestis to 
her husband Admetus." 

On leaving Flaxman his early practice of modelling in wax came again into 
exercise. He produced for Eoskell and Bridge, diu'ing a number of years, the best 
groups and " cups" they had to make. He was thus employed when his "Apollo" 
and his "Eve at the Fountain" appeared. Nor did he quite relinquish that 
miniature work till he was commissioned to execute the sculptiu-es for the Central 
and South pediments of Buckingham Palace. The side of the " Marble Arch," 
facing the Palace as it then stood, the bassi-relievi in the Throne-room, which, 
however, were designed by Stothard, and the decorative statues surmounting the 
pediments, all followed. This considerable labour and large amount of design, like 
all architectural sculpture in this country, receives but little attention. We pass 
and repass, with a vague sense of these enrichments, as if they were too far away 
and too abstruse in subject and meaning to arrest observation. Nevertheless they 
woidd be found to be true art ; and if we had them in small, either in models or as 
sketches on paper, we shoidd be sui-prised by then- many beauties. 

Other works by Baily in public sight have been also unlucky, particularly the 
Nelson on the top of the column in Trafalgar-square, which, as far as we can tell, 
is a colossal figui'e of little value. Lord Holland in Westminster Abbey is not one 
of his best. Nor do any other of his portrait-statues make a very great impression. 
The principal of these are Earl Grey, in Grey-street, Newcastle, almost as high as 
Nelson, and Sh E. Peel in Manchester : also Telford, Sir Astley Cooper, Dr. Wood, 
the Master of St. John's, Cambridge, and Stephenson, the inventor of Eailways. 

Later in life he modelled a companion to the " Eve at the Fountain," which he 
called " Eve listening to the Yoice," recalling too obviously the earlier success. 



128 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



The "Graces" and "Maternal Love," engraved in this book, are admirable works. 
In the latter the child climbing uji the back of his mother, who turns round to meet 
the embrace and assist his movement, is charmingly thought. Mr. Joseph Neeld, 
M.P., commissioned him to execute this group in marble, as he had previously done 
the "Apollo afflicting the Greeks," and "Hercules casting Lycus into the Sea." 
Successful sculptors, as a rule, become prodigiously rich. Chantrey left a very 
large sum of money to the care of the Eoyal Academy, which will ultimately form 
a fund for the formation of an immense gallery of English art ; and Gibson also 
made that body his legatee, coupled with some conditions regarding his own models 
to be collected and preserved. These and similar conditions become every year more 
difficult. Baily did not become wealthy. In 18G2 he retired from active life, 
received the advantages of "Honorary membership" from the Academy, and died 
nearly eighty years of age in 1867. 





Till II I II I III r"~iTf , 

Monument to Mis. Udney, Chichester (Flaxman) 



BENJAMIN E. SPENCE. 



THE ANGEL'S WHISPER. 



INFANT MOSES AND PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER. 



L L 




•«*o»aaMf.,&i„^fc»,,jj,j;,ji„_^j,S^/,^,4,^^,,^^ ,uu»j,«u«j«j«.«.'i'i»i»fcwi*™ij.=-""Ui»-*»-"-"«^»^^*-*''^"*^ 




" Thy will be done" {Flaxman'). 



BENJAMIN E, SPENCE 




iNOTHEE of our artists wlio found their way to Eome and remaintid 
there was Benjamin Spence, well known for nearly twenty years to 
English visitors, having left this country when about the age of twenty- 
two, and entered the studio of Wyatt. This was not a great many years before 
the death of that excellent artist, in 1850, after which sudden and melancholy 
catastrophe, Spence, along with Gibson, undertook to see the works left unfinished 
carried prosperously to a close. Gibson was too busy to do much in the matter, and 
it devolved on Spence, who faithfully fulfilled the trust. He it was, however, who 
had the greatest interest in the deceased, as ever since his arrival in Eome he had 
been connected with the studio of Wyatt, and had possibly assisted in some of the 
larger works still in progress. 



J 32 THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



Spence's birthplace was Liverpool. His father had been a fellow-pupil (we 
suppose we must saj;-) with Gibson in the monumental sculptor's yard there, and had 
attained to some repute. The old friends kept up an affectionate correspondence,, 
and so it came that the junior Spence left his native place for Italy, where his 
father's early associate was ready to direct him. Before this, however, he had 
followed the same steps as Gibson, having got acquainted with Eoscoe, the only 
man in the great manufacturing city at that time interested in such things ; and the 
best bust of that writer, who was not averse to sitting for his portrait, was modelled 
by young Spence. Once in Eome, he also made up his mind to remain ; but he 
continued year after year to send home his works for exhibition. He died at the 
early age of forty -three, at Leghorn. 

These works have a distinctive character. He departed from the classic in 
subject, and having that kind of inventive fancy that more frequently belongs to the 
painter than to the sculptor, he endeavoured to produce groups and single figures 
of a new and popular character. The "Pharaoh's Daughter" and the "Angel's 
Whisper " partake of this character ; l)ut others of his works go much further. 
Among these we may mention " Highland Mary,'' '' The Lady of the Lake," and 
" Lavinia." This originality of Spence in opening a new field for his art recom- 
mends itself to us at once, but we cannot help feeling immediately also the great 
difficulty with respect to costume; "Lavinia," fu' example, is a semi-classic figure, 
exposing one side of the bosom, answering but hvmiorously to Thomson's lines, — 

" Ho saw hor channiug, but ho saw uot half 
Tho cliarms her downcast modesty concealed." 

Surely the honest and most pleasing treatment would have been to put her in 
the laced bodice of the time, as in tlu^ little old engravings by Wheatley and tlu' 
elder Corbould, a costume capable of excellent effect. 




Monmnent to Dr. IVarton, Winchester [Flaxman). 



ALEXANDER MUNRO. 



SISTER AND BROTHER. 



M M 




7771? Soi/ud of the Shell (A. J/iiinv). 



ALEXANDER MUNRO. 




HE name of Alexander Munro is the last name 'in ourliuok; the illustra- 
tion of Ms art, the last in our gallery of deceased British Seul[)tors. The 
a;roup was exhibited in the Eoyal Academy in 185G, and the two 
children are Miss Agnes and Herbert Gladstone, son and daughter of the Eight 
Hon. W. E. Gladstone. The artist died only on the lOth of January, 1871, at 
the early age of forty-four. 

Much sympathised with by a large circle of friends, who had looked forward 
for years to the early death of Munro as inevitable, he left London several wint(3rs 
before his end, taking refuge first at Mentone, and afterwards at Cannes, retaining 



136 THE BRITISH SlUIOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



his studio iu riuiliro, at first full of works in progress that had to be carried 
(Hit l)y assistants. Afterwards, a year before his death, ho gave it up, sold all 
his possessions, and ha^'iug built a home he called La Tourelle, in the neigh- 
liourhood of Cannes, there prepared himself to meet the hour too evidently 
ai)proaching. 

Alexander Munro was born in Sutherland in the far north, and came to London 
by the encouragement of the ducal family of that name, and very soon became 
fully engaged with all kinds of work, having an endless power of application 
and extraordinary energy. He did many busts : Dr. Aclaud of Oxford ; Sir 
William Armstrong, for the Literary Society, Newcastle; William Hunt, the 
Avater-colour painter, were among the best; and medallions, both small and 
life-size. These indeed, especially of ladies, were executed with surprising 
celerity, and while possessing the character of a portrait, striking at the first 
moment, had an elegance and sweetness, united with high breeding, that made 
tliem much prized. His men were scarcely so good, we felt that all that 
was in the flic(> was not given. Among his best we may mention Sir Walter 
Trevelyaa and lady, Lady Constance Gower, Mrs. Butler, J. E. Millais, and 
David Scott, <loue in bronze. At an early time he modelled in a group 
the three children of Mr. Ingram, the originator of illustrated newspapers, 
and on the death of that gentleman he executed a colossal statue of him for his 
native city. 

On first talcing up his abode in Cannes, he found to his sm'prise a con- 
siderable English community ready to receive him as an artist. Among 
many others, A'lctor Cousin, who had also retired thither to die, gave him 
sittings for a bust; and Munro, after the death of the metaphysician, 
executed the same in marble for the Government of Eranee, to be placed in the 



Institute. 
Munro 



was, proi)erly speaking, a decorative sculptor, although perhaps he 



ALEXANDER MUXRO. 137 



would not have acknowledged this himself, or thought it a compliment. He had 
never seriously considered the duties to himself and the world, incumbent upon 
the man who devotes himself to the highest art in the highest manner ; as Flaxman 
did, endowed as he was with much facility, but Avith large conscientiousness ; or 
as Wyatt did, with fewer' ideas and shorter perceptions. He did not delay at 
any probationary stage to utterly overcome any difficulty, but rushed into public 
practice, cheered by the applause of friends who were surprised by the appearance 
of talent, which remained with him certainly and was always at command, but 
which never was mistrusted by himself, and consequently never developed by 
education and increased practice into learned art. By saying he was an ornamental 
or decorative sculptor, we must guard ourselves against the appearance of using 
those terms in a derogatory sense. On the contrary, we consider them very high 
indeed, aU but the highest, and would rather elevate Munro by associating his 
name in this manner with beauty. French sculpture, which is in one point of view 
most able and always charming, and even learned, love of classic things being 
hereditary, is still entirely decorative in motive and sentiment. No works in 
the important public sculpture in France are so satisfactory as some of the small 
bronzes of Paris. But in this country there are no such accomplished works 
produced. Our "race-cups " have never been fortunate, and our porcelain, although 
it may some day occupy the same field to some extent, is an inferior material 
and nearly always damaged by the contraction in the furnace. We know it is 
perishable, and yet prefer it to metal because it is white like great marble 
statues. 

In painting we are wholly different, and Mum^o more resembled a painter in 
his various applications of talent. Our painting is not limited to what the eye 
enjoys ; in our figure pictures we are illustrative, and in landscape sentimental ; 
we must always tell a story and have an intention. Perfect modelling, the 
work of the hand brought to certainty by concluded knowledge, is the true 

N N 



138 



THE BRITISH SCHOOL OF SCULPTURE. 



sculptor's work ; and this given, it little matters to what it is applied. Muni'o did 
not wait for this power, but engaged the attention as our painters do, by sweet 
inventions and pretty fancies : good also in their way ; there ought to be room 
in the world for everything beautiful. 




Paolo ami Fixiiiccsca {A. Munro). 



lomjon: PK.Mia) liv vimuii ami lo., ciiv rhau 



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